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Contributions to 
Circumpolar Anthropology 2 
National Museum of Natural History 
Smithsonian Institution 








onoring our 



/\ ]~~jistory of pastern /\rctic Archaeology 

William W. Fitzhugh, 
Stephen Loring, and 
Daniel Odess, editors 


A History of Eastern Arctic Archaeology 

Part of the festivities during the 1993 Elders conference included this presentation by Graham Rowley (L) to 
Elmer Harp, Jr. of a bar towel inscribed with his name. 

] jonoring our P jders 

/\ jj is torn of r astern /\rci\c 




^-f^^ Published by the 

/|jkJL^k Arctic Studies Center, 

( ClrjB National Museum of Natural History, 

\/ffil¥ Smithsonian Institution 

Washington, D.C. 

€ 2002 by the Arctic Studies Center, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution 
Washington, D.C. 
All rights reserved 

Printed in the United States of America 

ISBN 0-9673429-2-9 


Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 

Honoring our elders : a history of eastern Arctic archaeology / edited 
by William W. Fitzhugh, Stephen Loring, and Daniel Odess. 

p. cm. — (Contributions to circumpolar anthropology ; v. 2) 
Revisions of papers presented at a conference held at Dartmouth College 
in 1993. 

Includes bibliographical references. 
ISBN 0-9673429-2-9 (pbk. : alk. paper) 

1. Inuit— Antiquities. 2. Archaeology— Canada, Northern— History. 3. 
Archaeology— Greenland— History. 4. Harp, Elmer. I. Fitzhugh, William 
W., 1 943- II. Loring, Stephen, 1 950- III. Odess, Daniel, 1 966- IV. 
Series: Contributions to circumpolar anthropology ; 2. 

E99.E7 H78 2002 
971 .901— dc21 

20021 52779 

°°The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of the American National Standard for Information 
Sciences— Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials. 

The majority of the papers in this volume were originally presented at "Elders Conference on the History of Archaeology in the 
Eastern Arctic" at Dartmouth College in 1 993, and have been revised for publication to varying degrees. 

Technical editor: Nancy Benco 

Cover and volume design: Anya Vinokour 

Production editor: Elisabeth Ward 

Printed by United Book Press, Inc., Baltimore, MD 

This publication is Volume 2 in the Arctic Studies Center series, Contributions to Circumpolar Anthropology, produced by the 
Arctic Studies Center, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. 


Front Cover Smithsonian members of the Meta Incognita Project excavating at Kuyait in July 1 991 , photo by William W. 

Back Cover. [L to R] Father Guy Mary-Rousseliere, Frederica de Laguna, and Graham Rowley at the Elders Conference, 
Dartmouth College, in 1993, Arctic Studies Center photo archives 

JUn i 9 20C5 









Part O ne 


William W. Fitzhugh and Stephen Loring 

Historical Perspectives 

Ernest S. Burch, Jr. 3 3 


J. V. Wright 47 


Bryan C. Gordon 5 3 


David Morrison 61 

Fart T 

WO High Arctic: Travel, Philosophy, and Theory 

Edmund Carpenter 69 

Jorgen Meldgaard and Hans Christian Gullov 79 


Hans Christian Gullov 89 

Moreau Maxwell 99 


Daniel Odess 1 1 3 

1 1 

Graham Rowley 


1 2 

Guy Mary-Rousseliere 

1 27 

fart ~yi~iree 

The Far Northeast: Archaeology in Quebec, the 
Maritimes, and Labrador 

1 3 

William W. Fitzhugh 

1 33 


Stephen Loring 

1 63 

1 5 


Ppitrirk Ph impt 

1 87 


Charles A. Martijn 




Jean-Yves Pintal and Charles A. Martijn 



Moira T. McCaffrey 


fart four 

The Future of the Past 


Bryan C. Hood 



James W. Helmer and Genevieve LeMoine 



Susan Rowley 



Norman Hallendy 









ERNEST S. BURCH, JR. is a cultural anthropologist specializing in the study of arctic peoples and is a Research 
Associate of the Smithsonian's Arctic Studies Center. His most recent book is The Inupiaq Eskimo Nations of North- 
west Alaska. He can be reached at 3601 Gettyburg Road, Camp Hill, Pa. 1 701 1 -681 6. 

EDMUND CARPENTER is an anthropologist and trustee of the Rock Foundation, 222 Central Park South, New York, 
New York, who has published widely on Inuit culture, ethnographic art, and cognitive anthropology. 

WILLIAM W. FITZHUGH is Curator of North American Archaeology and Director of the Arctic Studies Center at the 
National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. His interest lies in circumpolar cul- 
tures, environments, and archaeology. 

BRYAN C. GORDON is Curator Emeritus of Northwest Territories Archaeology (Keewatin) at the Canadian Museum of 
Civilization and specializes in hunting adaptations and prehistory of northern peoples in Canada and Eurasia. 

HANS CHRISTIAN GULL0V is Curator of Inuit Collections at the Danish National Museum's Department of Ethnogra- 
phy and is professor of Greenlandic cultural history at the Greenland Research Center, Department of Research, 
National Museum of Denmark. He is also Scientific Editor of Monographs on Greenland, Man & Society Series. 

NORMAN HALLENDY, an independent scholar, resides in Carp, Ontario when not in Nunavut pursuing research on 
Inuit stone structures and cognitive landscapes. His most recent book is Inuksuit: Silent Messengers of the Arctic. 

JAMES W. HELMERis Professor of Archaeology at the University of Calgary, Alberta, and has devoted his professional 
life to teaching and researching Paleoeskimo cultures of the Canadian High Arctic. 

BRYAN C. HOOD is an Associate Professor, Institute of Archaeology, University of Tromso, Norway. His interests 
include the archaeology of Labrador, the Eastern Arctic, and Greenland; Stone Age and Early Metal Period archaeol- 
ogy of North Norway and Russia's Kola Peninsula; and archaeological theory. 

GENEVIEVE LEMOINE is Curator-Registrar of the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum, Bowdoin College. She received her 
Ph.D from the University of Calgary in 1991 and has done fieldwork in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and 
Avanersuup Kommunia, Greenland. 

STEPHEN LORING is a Museum Anthropologist with the Arctic Studies Center at the National Museum of Natural 
History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. His research interests include the archaeology and contemporary 
peoples of Labrador, northern Quebec, and Alaska; caribou adaptations; and community archaeology. 


CHARLES A. MARTUN, an archaeologist and ethnohistorian, was for many years Provincial Archaeologist with the 
Government of Quebec's Ministry of Cultural Affairs and has specialized in Quebec archaeology, ethnology, 
ethnohistory, and the history of anthropological research in Quebec. He is now retired and living in Quebec. 

MOREAU MAXWELL (1 91 8-1 998), formerly Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Michigan State Univer- 
sity, was one of the foremost arctic archaeologists of his generation. Among his many lasting contributions was the 
regional archaeological synthesis, Prehistory of the Eastern Arctic published in 1 985. 

MOIRAT. MCCAFFREY is Director of Research and Exhibitions at the McCord Museum in Montreal, Quebec. She has 
conducted archaeological research in subarctic Quebec and Labrador and on the fles-de-la-Madeleine, and has curated 
many exhibitions with Aboriginal communities including "Across Borders: Beadwork in Iroquois Life." 

J0RCEN MELDCAARD spent his career at the Department of Ethnography at the Danish National Museum where he 
conducted archaeological and ethnological field work throughout the North American Arctic, though he is best know 
for his archaeological studies in West Greenland and Igloolik. 

DAVID MORRISON is an arctic archaeologist and Director of Archaeology and History at the Canadian Museum of 
Civilization in Ottawa specializing in Thule culture development the Western Canadian Arctic. 

DANIEL ODESS is Curator of Archaeology and Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Alaska Fair- 
banks. His research interests are in Paleoeskimo cultures of the North American Arctic and early Eurasian cultures. 

JEAN-YVES PINTAL is a consulting archaeologist specializing in the prehistory of the Quebec Lower North Shore. His 
most recent publication is Aux frontieres de la mer: la prehistoire de Blanc-Sablon. 

PATRICK PLUMET is a retired archaeologist whose principal work has been the prehistory of Nunavik, lithic studies, 
and the archaeology of the circumpolar region. He is now Honorary Professor at the Department of Earth and 
Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Quebec in Montreal. 

GUY MARY-ROUSSELIERE (1913-1994), one of Canada's premier avocational archaeologists, was ordained in the 
order of Oblates of Mary Immaculate in 1 938. He moved to Pond Inlet in 1 960 where he conducted archaeological 
research until his tragic death. A report on this work, Nunguvik et Saatut, was published posthumously. 

GRAHAM ROWLEY, a pre-World-War-ll explorer of the Central Canadian Arctic, became fascinated with Inuit culture 
and archaeology and pursued a life-long avocation in this field. His excavations at Abverdjar and other Igloolik area 
sites were influential in the establishment of the Dorset culture concept. 

SUSAN ROWLEY grew up with the Arctic in her blood and has spent much of her life building upon her father's 
archaeological and anthropological studies in Igloolik. She pioneered early practices of community archaeology and 
is now Curator of Public Archaeology at the Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia. 

JAMES V. WRIGHT is Curator Emeritus at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, Archaeological Survey of Canada 
division, which he joined in 1 960. There, he developed the archaeology of the boreal forest, and in his retirement he 
has been producing for the Survey a multi-volume synthesis, A History of the Native People of Canada. 




Note: Photographs on the title page of each chapter 
are pictures of the author(s) taken during the Elders 
Conference at Dartmouth College by Arctic Studies 
Center staff unless otherwise noted below. 

All maps were prepared by Marcia Bakry, National 
Museum of Natural History, from material supplied 
by individual authors. 

Acronymns used in this figure list are: AMNH 
(American Museum of Natural History, New York); 
CMC (Canadian Museum of Civilization, Ottawa); NAA 
(National Antropological Archives, Smithsonian 
Institution); NMAI (National Museum of the American 
Indian, Smithsonian Institution); NMNH (National 
Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution) 

p. ii G. Rowley and E. Harp, photo by W. Fitzhugh 
p. vii E. Harp at Richmond Gulf, photo by W. 

p. xii E. Harp and field team in Quebec, 1 967, photo 
courtesy Elmer Harp, Jr. 

1 . 1 Sketch from Hall 1 864 Life With the Esquimaux 

1 .2 Franklin relics from The Illustrated London 
News, October 1 5, 1 859, p. 367 

1 . 3 Dorset carvings from Abverdjar, courtesy Cam- 
bridge University Museum of Archaeology and 

1 .4 Research permit from William Duncan Strong 
Papers, NAA 97-10068 

1 .5 Native speakers at Elders Conference, Arctic 
Studies Center photo archives 

p. 30 Strong's Nugumiut women, NAA 82-1 1 675 
p. 33 E. S. Burch, 1 954, courtesy of Peary-MacMillan 
Arctic Museum, Bowdoin College 

2.1 Off Baffin Island, 1 954, courtesy E. S. Burch 

2.2 Greenlandic girl, 1954, courtesy E. S. Burch 

2.3 M. Torrarak in Nain, 1 954, courtesy E. S. Burch 

2.4 E. Harp and crew in car, courtesy E. S. Burch 

2.5 Seal hunting at Kivalina, courtesy E. S. Burch 
p. 47 J. V. Wright at God's Lake, eastern Manitoba, 

in 1 967, CMC slide #JVW-67-l -1 1 

3.1 Map of Barren Ground sites 

4.1 Map of 1 950-1 969 research in Beverly Range 

4.2 Map of 1 970-1 993 research in Beverly Range 

5.1 D.Jenness, courtesy National Museums of 
Canada, Ottawa, neg. #90666 

5.2 Jenness' sketch map of Cape Prince of Wales 

5.3 Excavation at Cape Prince of Wales, National 
Museums of Canada, Ottawa, neg. #67731 

5.4 Harpoon heads from Jenness 1 928a: plate XII 
p. 66 N. Emerson, W. Taylor,and H. Collins from 

Henry B. Collins papers, NAA 2002-221 58 
p. 69 E. Carpenter on the Yenesei River in 1 994, 

photo by Adelaide deMenil 
6.1 - Eskimo art pieces, mostly from Schuster and 

Carpenter (1 986-1 988), but see note p. 77 

7.1 K. Rasmussen, courtesy J. Melgaard 

7.2 Map of the 5th Thule Expedition route 

8.1 Kangeq village, photo by Hans Kapel 

8.2 A. Tobiassen, photo by H.C. Gullov 

8.3 Map of Greenland with harpoon heads, 
p. 99 M. Maxwell camped at Lonesome Creek, 

Ellesmere Island, June 1958 (Self-portrait) 

9.1 M. Maxwell's survey route on northern 
Ellesmere Island 

9.2 E. Knuth and M. Maxwell at Solebakken site, 
U.S. Coast Guard photographer 

9.3 E. Knuth and M. Maxwell on board USCGC 
Atka, U.S. Coast Guard photographer 

p. 1 1 3 D. Odess at Frobisher Bay in 1 991 , photo 

by W. W. Fitzhugh 
11.1 Abverdjar, c. 1 932, photo by Father Bazin. 
p. 1 30 Field crew on board Tunuyak in Nain, 1 980 

Arctic Studies Center photo archives 
1 3.1 Nukasusutok 2, Structure 2 photo by W. W. 


1 3.2 Labrador Culture History schematic 

13.3 Map of Nukasusutok Island 

13.4 Sketch map of Nukasusutok 2 site 

1 3.5 Nuk-2, Structure 1 photo by W. W. Fitzhugh 


1 3.6 Nuk-2, Structure 2 photo by W. W Fitzhugh 
13.7 Plot of Labrador coast radiocarbon dates 

by Marcia Bakry 
1 3.8 Nuk-2 tools, SI staff photographer 
1 3.9 Nuk-2 celts, SI staff photographer 
1 3.1 Nuk-2 burins, SI staff photographer 

13.11 Nuk-2 bifaces, SI staff photographer 

13.12 Drawings of Nuk-2 artifacts by Thomas 

13.13 Plan of Nuk-2, SI by Marcia Bakry 
1 3.1 4 Plan of Nuk-2, S2 by Marcia Bakry 

1 4.1 Raman chert artifacts from Nulliak, New 
foundland Museum lbCp-20:l 80 (L), 240 
(M), 1 91 (R), photo by S. Loring 

1 4.2 Ramah chert stemmed point from Maine, 
Crandall Collection, photo by Vermont Di 
vision for Historic Preservation #78-A-361 

1 4.3a Ramah chert biface from Maine, NMNH 
A.6376, photo by S. Loring 

1 4.3b Ramah chert biface from Massachusetts, 
AMNH T.577, photo by S. Loring 

1 4.4 Ramah chert biface from Rhode Island, 
NMNH A. 1 8083, photo by S. Loring 

1 4.5 Ramah chert biface from Rhode Island, 
AMNH T.25498, photo by S. Loring 

14.6 Spingle cache bifaces, from the collec- 
tions of the Department of Anthropology, 
Memorial University, St. John's, Newfound- 
land, photo by S. Loring 

1 4.7 Stubbert cache, photo by W. W. Fitzhugh 

1 4.8 Ramah chert artifacts from Vermont at 
NMAI: (a) drill, NMAI 6/5351 (b) biface, 
NMAI 20/9089, photo by S. Loring 

1 4.9 Ramah chert biface from New York, NMNH 
A. 1 4961 0, photo by S. Loring 

14.10 Ramah chert biface from Newjersey, Gary 
Fogelman collection, photo by S. Loring 

14.11 Ramah chert biface from Maryland, photo 
by Gary Fogelman 

1 4.1 2 Ramah Bay and quarry bowl, northern 

Labrador, photo by W. W. Fitzhugh 
15.1 Map of Arctic Quebec 
1 5.2 J. Rousseau, courtesy CMC, neg. #J-41 76 

15.3 T. Lee and W. Thomasie, photo by P Plumet 
1 5.4 Imaha II before excavation, photo by 

P. Plumet 

1 5.5 Imaha II after reconstruction, photo by 
P. Plumet 

1 5.6 MacColl Island crew, photo by P. Plumet 
1 5.7 Tuvaaluk 1 978 crew, photo by P. Plumet 

15.8 "Dorset-Thule House", photo by P. Plumet 
1 6.1 D. Weetaluktuk, courtesy Makivik Research 

Department, Avataq Cultural Institute 
p. 21 6 J.Y. Pintal, photo courtesy J. Y. Pintal 
1 7.1 Map of the Lower North Shore, Quebec 
1 7.2 W.J. Wintemberg, courtesy National Mu- 
seums of Canada, Ottawa, neg. # 76089 
1 8. 1 Map of Gulf of St. Lawrence region 
1 8.2 Landry Collection artifacts, photo by 

McCord Museum of Canadian History 
18.3 Dorset endblade, Laboratoire et Reserve d'archeo- 

logie du Quebec, Ministere de la Culture ChCl 1 :30, 

photo by M. T. McCaffrey 
1 8.4 Burin-like tool, photo by Maine State Museum 
1 8.5 Merigomish, Nova Scotia artifacts as pictured in 

Smith and Wintemberg (1 929) Plate XX 
1 8.6 Aerial view of Portage du Cap, photo by M. T. 


p. 236 B. Ell at Mill Island, photo by Deric O'Bryan, Arctic 

Studies Center photo archives 
p. 239 B. Hood in 1 979, photo by W. W. Fitzhugh 
1 9.1 SAR seminar attendees, photo courtesy School 

of American Research, Alburquerque 
p. 253 (on right) G. LeMoine courtesy G. LeMoine 

20.1 Map of Little Cornwallis Island 

20.2 Dorset ivory transformation figure, Prince of Wales 
Northern Heritage Centre Qjjx-l 0.670, photo by 
Gerald Newlands 

p. 261 S. Rowley on board the Tunuyak, photo by S. Loring 

21.1 Obsidian knapping at Igloolik, photo by S. 

21.2 Students excavating at Arnaqaaksaat, photo by 
S. Rowley 

21.3 K. Apak setting up exhibit, photo by S. Rowley 
22.1 The megalithic structure at Akitsiraqvik, photo by 

N. Hallendy 


1 .1 Dekin's periodization of research in the Arctic 

4.1 Beverly Range research syntheses 

4.2 Berverly Range field work by area 

4.3 Beverly Range cultural chronology 

1 3.1 Labrador Paleoeskimo classification 

1 3.2 Axial structure sites in Northern Labrador 

1 3.3 Labrador Pre-Dorset-Dorest Transition date list 

1 3.4 Artifact finds at Nukasusutok 2 

1 3.5 Celt metrics from Nukasusutok 2 

1 3.6 Distribution of Nukasusutok 2, Structre 2 finds 

1 7.1 Strait of Belle Isle cultural chronology 

22.1 Inuktitut legal terms 

x i 

Harp's "APA-QUE 1967" team at Wiachouan River Falls: (standing, L-R) Elmer 
Harp, Jr.; John Miksic; Jack Rinker; (kneeling, L-R) Douglas Harp; William 
McCarty; William Fitzhugh; William Cavaney 



Elmer Harpjr., Dartmouth's Dorset Pioneer: 
A Personal Reflection 

There comes a time when you look back at where you've 
been and wonder how your life took the shape it did. 
Sometimes that reverie takes years to come into focus, 
because we usually owe our paths— or at least the in- 
spiration to move in a certain direction— to unexpected 
people who intersect our lives. In my case, I followed in 
my father's footsteps to Dartmouth, and there, after 
three years of searching for a suitable intellectual home, 
I discovered Wilson Hall, the Anthropology Department, 
Mary Wesbrook, and Elmer Harp, more or less in that 

Wilson Hall housed the Dartmouth College Museum, 
a crusty old brownstone on the corner of the campus 
green which began to look exceedingly dowdy after 
the construction of the avant-guard Hopkins Center in 
the early 1 960s. But it had interesting— if also dowdy 
—exhibits of animals and artifacts. When I arrived on 
the campus in 1 960, the newly created anthropology 
program was not quite yet a full academic department. 
Upon stepping through the doors of Wilson Hall I found 
myself enveloped in a kind of homecoming experience. 
Part of that was the feeling of timelessness inspired by 
natural history and cultural displays frozen behind glass. 
But I suspect more influential was departmental secre- 
tary Mary Wesbrook's embrace of students— and the 
tea and cookies she always had available on the side- 
board. Mary was Harp's secret weapon in the emanci- 
pation of anthropology from the Sociology Department; 
students walking through her office signed up by the 

For a small undergraduate college, Dartmouth an- 
thropology in 1 962 was burgeoning with activity. Al- 
though it only had three full-time faculty (Elmer Harp, 
Jr., Robert A. McKennan, and Alfred Whiting) when I 

arrived, Harp and McKennan had succeeded, over a 
fifteen-year period, in building the foundation for an 
exciting fledgling anthropology program. Harp was the 
prime mover behind this effort, which began with his 
first formal association with Dartmouth in 1 946. Over 
the years, Harp and McKennan (known to us students 
as "Upper Nabesna Bob" for his inability to speak more 
than two sentences without mentioning Nabesna, the 
location of his major ethnographic research in north- 
ern Alaska) put together a strong academic program 
with course offerings in general anthropology, archae- 
ology, ethnology, and physical anthropology, bolstered 
by field opportunities connected with their ongoing eth- 
nological and archaeological research programs in 
Alaska and Canada. Other important assets were 
Dartmouth's inter-departmental Northern Studies pro- 
gram with its staff in geography, geology, and biology; 
the venerable Dartmouth College (now 'Hood') Museum, 
which offered students a chance to work with collec- 
tions and produce exhibits; the Army Cold Regions Re- 
search and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) with its large 
staff of northern experts who offered occasional courses 
in physical sciences; and the memorabilia and legacy 
of Vilhjalmur Stefansson, who had been in residence at 
Dartmouth from 1953 until his death in 1 962 and whose 
archive and library was a treasure trove of materials as 
well as a gathering place for northern scholars. 

The success of this program, and of Dartmouth's 
efforts in northern studies in general, is notable. Al- 
though Brown University, University of Pennsylvania, 
University of Wisconsin, and University of Alaska 
Fairbanks also developed degree programs that sent 
students on to professional degrees in northern stud- 
ies, Dartmouth is the only one to have launched ca- 
reers in northern anthropology without a graduate 
program. Even more unusual is the large number of 
sociology and anthropology majors who went into other 


areas of anthropology, even before the department 
began to grow and diversify following the appointment 
of James Fernandez in 1 964 and before achieving de- 
partmental status in 1967. Much credit for this suc- 
cessful entrapment of young, frequently distracted 
minds is due to Elmer's skill at combining teaching, 
fieldwork, and research programs that appealed to 
adventurous college students. 

Elmer's teaching and organizational activities have 
been paralleled by a remarkable career in exploration 
and research. Supported by grants from the National 
Science Foundation, the American Philosophical Soci- 
ety, the Office of Naval Research, Arctic Institute of North 
America, and with international training acquired 
through a Fulbright Fellowship to Denmark and post- 
doctoral work in Soviet-area studies at Harvard, Harp 
was familiar with the entire circumpolar region. His 
special interest was the development of Dorset culture, 
which he researched in its southern ranges along the 
forest-tundra boundary from the Yukon to Newfound- 
land, exploring regional adaptations and technology, 
demography, settlement patterns, and cultural relation- 
ships to Alaska and to neighbors to the south. He be- 
gan his field studies in the Yukon region of northwest- 
ern Canada as assistant to Frederick Johnson of the R. 
S. Peabody Foundation, and later worked in the Strait 
of Belle Isle and in western Newfoundland at the south- 
eastern extremity of the Dorset region, along theThelon 
River in Keewatin, and on the east coast of Hudson Bay. 
Harp's investigations compiled the most comprehen- 
sive data on Dorset settlement and adaptation in the 
southern part of its range. Although most of this work 
is not yet completely published (see below for a bibli- 
ography of Elmer's work), it answered one of the out- 
standing questions of the day, showing conclusively 
that Dorset culture remained a very conservative 
entity throughout its two thousand year history and 
that, despite adapting to subarctic habitats, it remained 
resistant to and largely isolated from, southern influ- 
ences. It also provided the most complete documenta- 
tion on Dorset settlement and dwelling types in these 
regions at a time when little was known about Dorset 
household and settlement patterns. 

Elmer had a passion for photography and was re- 
ceptive to new technologies and applications. He re- 
corded his field expeditions carefully with his trusted 
Leica and did most of his own artifact illustrations. He 
developed afield documentation system using Polaroid 
photographs that provided much more detailed infor- 

mation than the sketch maps commonly used by ar- 
chaeologists. His passion for photography extended 
to contemporary subjects, and his many sensitive pho- 
tographs of Port au Choix and its people in the 1 950s- 
60s will soon be published in a book edited by Priscilla 
Renouf. Stimulated by his colleague Jack Rinker, an 
environmental scientist and air-photo analyst working 
in Hanover at CRREL, Elmer spent ten years exploring 
the application of multi-spectral and multi-scalar aerial 
photography to problems of archaeological reconnais- 
sance along the east coast of Hudson Bay and pub- 
lished several papers on this subject. Although in the 
end Harp's aerial imagery proved less efficient than 
ground surveys in northern regions, it proved an inno- 
vative method for integrating archaeological data into 
environmental settings. His work helped set the stage 
for more intensive applications of remote sensing us- 
ing aerial and satellite imagery that anthropologists, 
archaeologists, and ecologists began to use when 
multi-spectral imagery became available for non-mili- 
tary purposes after 1 970. 

Elmer was wonderful to work with in the field, 
and it is here that many of his students best remem- 
ber him. James L Farley, writing at the time of 
Elmer's retirement from Dartmouth in 1978 (Farley 
1 978:40) captured the image many of us share: 

a trim, compact man with a full head of white 
hair above a surprisingly youthful face. ...An 
inveterate pipe-smoker, Harp has the calm, 
unflappable air that novelists invariably 
associate with the briar-bearing set. One can 
easily picture him imperturbably shooting an 
Arctic rapids with pipe firmly but insouciantly 
in mouth. 

There were times, however, when steel glinted 
through that unflappable demeanor, as I once discov- 
ered, much to my chagrin. Elmer's notes were legion 
and were widely recognized as models of perfection. 
How, we wondered, did he manage to keep such de- 
tailed and elegant notes, written and drawn in differ- 
ent color pencils and ink, and make such fine sketch 
maps in the field? So precise and defined were they 
that he rarely needed the assistance of a professional 
artist and often prepared for professional meetings by 
making slides of pages of his field notes. During the 
summer of 1 967, when I was with Elmer on his first 
season surveying the east coast of Hudson Bay and 
was desperate to make a good impression, I would see 
Elmer sitting in the cook tent working on his notes 


until late at night. One particular night when we were 
in Richmond Gulf I stayed up later than he and took 
responsibility for tidying up the tent before retiring to 
our smaller sleeping tents. We had been brewing tea 
on a Coleman stove on the cook tent floor that evening. 
At about 5am we were roused by a sudden squall that 
struck hard, leveling the big tent. When Elmer crawled 
in to retrieve his notebook he found it soaked with tea. 
The damage was not severe, but I caught a bit of that 
Harp glint and verbal sting for my carelessness. Need- 
less to say, the notes— and the incident— made a big 
impression on me. 

Elmer's other half— the "better half," he likes to say- 
is Elaine. Actually, I hesitate to write about Elaine here, 
knowing full well that I will never hear the end of it. But 
a few words are needed as Elaine has been such an 
integral part of Elmer's life and career that one simply 
cannot refer to them separately. Beginning with find- 
ing Elmer his job at Dartmouth when he was serving as 
a PT boat officer in the Mediterranean and the Pacific in 
1 944-45, Elaine has been instrumental in almost every 
phase of Elmer's professional life. An indefatigable con- 
versationalist and letter-writer, she complements 
Elmer's penchant for reticence and year after year pre- 
sided over social gatherings at their home for the en- 
tire department and its students. Elmer's role at such 
gatherings was of course to follow Elaine's instructions, 
but his principal duty from the students' point of view 
was to serve his renowned "harp lager" home brew. 
These gatherings were crucial in establishing the es- 
pnt-de-corps that became a major part of our anthro- 
pology experience at Dartmouth. 

Like Elmer, Elaine had definite ideas about field op- 
erations and how they should be managed. My brush 
with her 'steel' came early in our relationship when I 
appeared at their door on the eve of the departure of 
Elmer's 1 963 expedition to Newfoundland. I was ac- 
tive in the Dartmouth's Ledyard Canoe Club, and that 
year the arrival on the campus of Jay Evans as a college 
advisor to the club resulted in a number of us taking 
up kayaking for the first time. Jay had a mold, and I had 
just finished building my first kayak, a rickety contrap- 
tion of fiberglass, aluminum tubing, and vinyl. I had 
not mentioned it to Elmer previously, but there it was, 
sitting on my car ready to go to Newfoundland, where 
I planned to spend evenings and weekends paddling 

around the coves in Port au Choix, imagining myself 
an Eskimo'. Elmer did not have much to say that night 
as we finished packing his trailer, but when I returned 
early in the morning I learned from him that I could not 
bring the boat. "Too dangerous. You're all by yourself. 
Do you know how cold that water is? You'll only last 
ten minutes even with a life jacket on." That was it! The 
kayak stayed home, and I got my first taste of archae- 
ology for three weeks before leaving Newfoundland 
for an NROTC training cruise. Later I learned that after 
I had left their house that night Elaine had 'put her foot 
down' most emphatically. Elmer of course had his own 
qualms. Although this seemed a terrible injustice at 
the moment, I realized the wisdom of this decision as 
soon as I reached Port au Choix. Suffice to say that 
Elaine has been much more than a wife, a mother of 
four, and Elmer's staunchest supporter. A member 
(sometimes cook) of several field expeditions and a com- 
panion and sounding board for life, Elaine enriched the 
Harp experience' that so many students and colleagues 
came to know and love. 

Elmer has indeed become a legend in his own time. 
To his students he was a patient and gifted teacher 
who taught by cracking open the door to anthropology 
and northern studies just wide enough for us to per- 
ceive the glimmer and go for our prize under our own 
steam. Always supportive and perceptive, he taught us 
to think well, write clearly, and act judiciously. His and 
Elaine's lives and decades-long partnership has been 
an inspiration. Artist, photographer, painter, and a poet, 
too, he will forever be the gentleman scholar from 
Dartmouth whose teaching, love of the North, and in- 
vestigations of that mysterious Dorset culture will long 
be remembered. He in turn remembered the spirits of 
their world one Christmas eve by lighting a candle on a 
beluga sternum bone he had found at the Tuurngasiti 
site in the Belcher Islands and offering the following 
"Ode to the Ghost from Tuurngasiti": 

Hail, briny spirit! 

Once denizen of Arctic deeps 

But now inhabitant of some cetacean heav'n, 

We honor you with votive light! 

Come be with us this Christmas night. 

Attest the universal thread of life: 

Organic molecules in diverse chains 

Link us with you. 

And we are kin. 


Publications of Elmer Harp Jr. 

1951 An Archaeological Survey in the Strait of Belle 

Isle Area. American Antiquity 1 6:203-220. 
1953 New World Affinities of Cape Dorset Eskimo 

Culture. Anthropological Papers of the University of 

Alaska 1 (2):37-54. College, AK. 
1 957 Prehistoric Hunters of Newfoundland-Labrador 

and their Relationship to New England Archaeology. 

Bulletin of the Massachusetts Archaeological Society 


1958 Prehistory in the Dismal Lake area, N.W.T., 
Canada. Arctic 1 1 (4):21 8-249. 

1959 The Moffat Archaeological Collection from the 
Dubawnt Country, Canada. American Antiquity 
24(4):41 2-422. 

1 961 The Archaeology of the Lower and Middle 
Thelon, Northwest Territories. Technical Paper 8. 
Montreal: Arctic Institute of North America. 

1962 The Culture History of the Central Barren 
Grounds. In Prehistoric Cultural Relations between 
the Arctic and Temperate Zones of North America, 
edited by J. M. Campbell. Technical Paper 1 1 : 69- 
75. Montreal: Arctic Institute of North America. 

1963a Archaeological Evidence Bearing on the Origin 
of the Caribou Eskimos. Proceedings of the 6 th Inter- 
national Congress of Anthropological and Ethnologi- 
cal Sciences, Paris, I960. Vol. 2(1):409-41 3. 

1 963b Evidence of Boreal Archaic Culture in Southern 
Labrador and Newfoundland. Anthropological Series 
6 1 , National Museum of Canada, Bulletin 1 9 3( 1 ) : 1 84- 
261. Ottawa. 

1 964a The Cultural Affinities of the Newfoundland 
Dorset Eskimo. Anthropological Series 67, National 
Museum of Canada, Bulletin 200. Ottawa. 

1 964b World Arctic Archaeology. In The Unbelievable 
Land, edited by Norman Smith. Department of North- 
ern Affairs and Natural Resources, and the Northern 
Service of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 
Vol. 1 :49-54. Ottawa. 

1 966 Anthropology and Remote Sensing. Proceed- 
ings of the 4 th Symposium on Remote Sensing of the 
Environment. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan. 

1 968a Five Prehistoric Burials from Port au Choix, New- 
foundland. Polar Notes: Occasional Publication of the 
Stefansson collection 8:1-47. Hanover, N.H. (with 
David R. Hughes) 

1 968b Anthropological Interpretation from Color. In 
Manual of Color Aerial Photography, edited by J. T. 
Smith. Falls Church: American Society of Photogram- 

1 969 Optimum Scales and Emulsions in Air Photo 
Archaeology. Proceedings of the 8 th International 

Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences 

1 970a The Prehistoric Indian and Eskimo Cultures of 
Labrador and Newfoundland. Proceedings of the 7 th 
International Congress of Anthropological and Eth- 
nological Sciences 1 0:295-299. Moscow. 

1 970b Late Dorset art from Newfoundland. Folk 1 1 - 

1974a Threshold Indicators of Culture in Air Photo 
archaeology: A Case Study in the Arctic. In Aerial 
Photography in Anthropological Field Research, ed- 
ited by Evon Z. Vogt. Cambridge: Harvard University 

1 974b Aerial Photography for the Arctic Archaeolo- 
gist. In Aerial Remote Sensing Techniques in Archae- 
ology, edited by T. R. Lyons and R. K. Hitchcock. 
Prescott: Prescott College Press. 

1 974-5 A Late Dorset Copper Amulet from Southeast- 
ern Hudson Bay. Folk 1 6-1 7:33-44. 

1975b The Objectives of Archaeological Photogra- 
phy. In Photography in Archaeological Research, ed- 
ited by Elmer Harp, Jr. School of American Research 
Advanced Seminar Series. Albuquerque: University 
of New Mexico Press. 

1975c Basic Considerations in the Use of Aerial Pho- 
tography. In Photography in Archaeological Research, 
edited by Elmer Harp, Jr. School of American Re- 
search Advanced Seminar Series. Albuquerque: Uni- 
versity of New Mexico Press. 

1 976 Dorset Eskimo Settlement Patterns in New- 
foundland and Southeastern Hudson Bay. In Eastern 
Arctic Prehistory: Paleoeskimo Problems, edited by 
Moreau Maxwell. Memoirs of the Society for Ameri- 
can Archaeology. 31:119-1 38. Salt Lake City. 

1 978 Pioneer Cultures of the Subarctic and the Arc- 
tic. In Ancient Native Americans, edited by Jesse D. 
Jennings. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman and Com- 

1 984 History of [Arctic] Archaeology after 1 945. In 
Handbook of North American Indians, edited by David 
Damas. Vol. 5 (Arctic): 1 7-22. Washington: 
Smithsonian Institution. 

1 997 Pioneer Settlements of the Belcher Islands, N. 
W. T. In Fifty Years of Arctic Research: Anthropologi- 
cal Studies from Greenland to Siberia, edited by Rolf 
Gilberg and H.C. Gullov. Publications of the National 
Museum Ethnographical Series 1 8:1 57-1 68. Copen- 
hagen: National Museum of Denmark. 

In press 

Lives and landscapes: a photographic memoir of out port 
Newfoundland and Labrador 1949-1963, edited by 
M. A. P. Renouf. Montreal: McGill-Queens University 




In addition to Elmer Harp, this volume honors 
our recently departed elders William E. Taylor, 
Jr. (1927-1994), Father (AtataJ Nlary- 
Rousseliere (1 91 3-1 994), and Moreau S. 
Maxwell (1 91 8-1 998) who were with us in 
Hanover, and to Count Eigil Knuth (1903- 
1 996) who could not attend. Their dedication to 
archaeology, to their students and colleagues, 
and to northern peoples have helped bring past 
and future together. Their passing marks a 
generational change that lies at the heart of our 
present enterprise. ' 

The loss of traditional knowledge with the death of 
Inuit elders has left a seemingly irrevocable void in our 
ability to understand the Inuit past. More than any other 
factor, it was this loss — multiplied regionally among 
non-Western societies throughout the world — that pro- 
vided the rationale for the origins and growth of Ameri- 
can anthropology in the nineteenth century. In Europe, 
race and social theory dominated anthropology's for- 
mative era. But in America, beginning with Louis Henry 
Morgan's work in the 1 840s, "salvage" ethnology drove 
the expansion of anthropology as scholars sought to 
record and collect information and artifacts from na- 
tive cultures before they vanished forever. This volume 
confronts a similar time-dependant loss, but reverses 
the object of study. Here, it is the anthropologist rather 
than the Native with whom we are primarily concerned. 
It is not so much the Inuit and northern Indian past as 
the history of arctic archaeology that is the subject of 
this book. 

Defining the Path 

This task would be a worthy goal in and of itself 
because there is effectively no history of Eastern Arctic 
archaeology in the formal historiographical sense. For 
more than one hundred years, travelers, native schol- 
ars, and scientists have probed the mysteries of Inuit 
and northern Indian history seeking clues to their ori- 
gins and diversity. It has only been since World War II 
that Eastern Arctic archaeology has come of age with 
a virtual explosion of professional activity. Taking 
advantage of the wartime establishment of military 
bases and government facilities, and their continua- 
tion through the Cold War into the current period 
of industrial expansion and government growth, 
archaeological exploration has reached the farthest, 
most inaccessible reaches of Greenland and the Cana- 
dian High Arctic. Armed with an increasingly powerful 
array of scientific techniques and interpretive systems, 
researchers have recovered finds and information not 
even dreamed of by the pioneer archaeologists of the 
early 1900s. 

This volume, however, is not about these discov- 
eries but rather is about how these discoveries were 
made and who made them. It seeks to pay tribute to 
the intellectual climate and the heritage resulting from 
this work. It is about the organization of early research 
efforts in a remote region of the world and about 
the pioneering scientists who found a way to pen- 
etrate the arctic vastness to find testimonials of a re- 
markable past. This book is an explicit attempt to 


stimulate a formal history of the development of arctic 
archaeology largely because this field has no formal 
history and, until recently, has shown little interest in 
developing one. As we experience the transformation 
of our own scientific tradition and heritage through 
the passing of our archaeological mentors, we lament 
the loss of knowledge that is tied to our discipline's 
oral history. This is a somewhat ironic situation for schol- 
ars and academics whose lives have been devoted to 
producing written words. What can be said when our 
efforts to document our own history as archaeologists 
and anthropologists have shown so little progress that 
our history as individuals (biography) and collectives 
(disciplinary history) is nearly nonexistent? 

Our purpose has been to gather some stones for a 
foundation — some pieces of archaeological history — 
that can be used as building blocks for the future. While 
we realize that the present contributions have gaps 
and inadequacies, and in many respects barely touch 
the exciting, preposterous, and flagrant misdirections 
of our past, at least it may serve as a prod to preserve 
the story behind the research so that future research- 
ers will have a better understanding of how arctic ar- 
chaeologists of the late twentieth century constructed 
the past. 

Our region of focus is the Eastern North American 
Arctic — that portion of North America that lies prima- 
rily north of the boreal forest beginning approximately 
at Herschel Island near the U.S. -Canadian border and 
stretching east to Greenland and south across the arctic 
islands and mainland tundra to southern Hudson Bay, 
Labrador, and Newfoundland. The boundaries of the 
region are not ironclad but conform to the geographic 
region that arctic-adapted peoples have tradition- 
ally called home, approximating the southern bound- 
ary of arctic pack ice and its characteristic inhabitant, 
Odobenus rosmarus, the walrus. In some areas and at 
some times, this region has included portions of the 
boreal forest where arctic waters have chilled the 
coastal regions and have provided seasonal ice cover 
that have given arctic peoples a means of winter 

sustenance. In Labrador and Newfoundland, this eco- 
logical zone extends far south of the terrestrial tundra 
boundary as a result of the influence of the Labrador 
Current. Here, Inuit peoples have found homelands 
well south of the Arctic zone proper, no matter which 
definition one chooses. 

This book emerged as an outcome of a confer- 
ence held at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New 
Hampshire, on April 22-24, 1 993. The immediate pur- 
pose of that meeting, and now this volume, was and 
is to honor a generation of archaeological elders. As it 
happened, Elmer Harp, Graham Rowley, and Father 
Mary-Rousseliere, who had simultaneously reached 
the august age of eighty at the time of the "Dartmouth 
Elder's Conference," found their careers straddling 
what can aptly be called the "golden age" of arctic 
archaeology. Trained by or associated with the pio- 
neers of arctic anthropology and archaeology like 
Therkel Matthiassen, Kaj Birket-Smith, Helge Larsen, 
Henry Collins, and Diamond Jenness, and having con- 
tributed by scientific works and training of students to 
a vast expansion in knowledge, they presided over a 
field that has changed dramatically in past decades. 
The archaeology we practice today in the Eastern 
Arctic has roots in the past; but its conduct, its meth- 
ods, and its goals have become so different, so fast, 
that it is impossible not to recognize a "sea change" 
and the inauguration of a new phase of archaeological 

Following the pioneering and developmental stages 
of fieldwork and analysis, we now stand at a thresh- 
old in which the goals and methods of archaeology, 
and field science in general, are changing. Empirical 
models of science at the foundation of the discipline 
have reached a point at which further progress can 
only be made by reexamining fundamental principles 
and priorities: Who does archaeology? And for what 
ends? What are its political applications and ramifica- 
tions? What are the social obligations of research? How 
can results and benefits be spread equably among 
various interest groups? Our intention for our own 



Elders Conference was that it would serve as a forum 
to examine the historical development of the disci- 
pline as well as chart its future directions. Some of 
these ideas are explored in the following pages. As 
background for these papers, we have prepared the 
second half of this introduction as a discussion of some 
of the major themes that have motivated the past 
fifty years of archaeological research in the Eastern North 
American Arctic. 

New Context for the Past 

Knowledge provided by archaeologists has resolved 
some of the questions that have intrigued Western 
scholars since the Inuit were encountered, first by Norse 
about 1 ,000 years ago, and later by Martin Frobisher 
and other European explorers beginning in the late six- 
teenth century — questions about cultural origins and 
history, and the social and economic relations between 
regions and cultures. In the process, archaeologists to 
a very real degree found they had inherited the mantle 
of the early explorers, finding their "northwest passages" 
and "farthest norths" on the gravels of Independence 
Fjord and in the cache boxes of abandoned Thule win- 
ter houses. By now, hundreds of sites have been re- 
corded from which thousands of artifacts have been 
collected, cataloged, and removed to distant muse- 
ums. Among these finds are the humblest of imple- 
ments — broken needles, flakes of chert, amber beads, 
and other items that testify to a human presence in 
the Arctic. Other finds, like the Thule carving of a Norse 
man from southern Baffin Island, Norse chain mail and 
wool textiles from a tent floor on Bache Peninsula, a 
Dorset soapstone polar bear from northern Labrador, 
and the Pre-Dorset ivory maskette from Ivujivik stir the 
imagination and have earned international respect for 
the dynamism and ingenuity of Eastern Arctic cultures 
and their heritage. While cultural developments in the 
Eastern Arctic may not rival those of the more resource- 
rich Western Arctic, archaeology has demonstrated the 
independence and unique creativity of these arctic 

These finds represent the remains of 4,000 years 
of arctic history from a host of different cultures 
spread over an immense geographic region. The 
archaeologists who gathered these materials have 
produced an equally impressive array of scientific pub- 
lications. Whereas the library available to our elders in 
1 945 occupied perhaps a couple of shelves dominated 
by reports from Greenland, today's Eastern Arctic ar- 
chaeologist has a room full of books and journals and 
file cabinets filled with published and unpublished re- 
ports. Albert Dekin, who amassed the most compre- 
hensive bibliography of arctic archaeology as of 1 976 
(Dekin 1 978), listed more than 1 ,600 publications, and 
since then the literature has more than doubled. Dur- 
ing this period, the number of archaeologists working 
in northern Canada and Greenland increased from a 
small cadre of what Moreau Maxwell has called 
"chapped hands" pioneers to dozens of professionals, 
students, and enthusiasts hailing from the United States, 
Canada, Europe, Japan, and elsewhere. To all appear- 
ances, the results of the past fifty years of archaeologi- 
cal research in the Eastern Arctic have been successful 
beyond measure. 

Old Faces — New Questions 

From time to time, other voices were heard express- 
ing interest — and concern — about the growing 
archaeological industry in the North: these were the 
voices of the Inuit, of community leaders, of political 
activists, and occasionally of scholars. Increasingly, 
Inuit were asking questions that were not easy for 
scientists to comprehend — questions about rights of 
ownership over artifacts and heritage; about archaeo- 
logical authority versus traditional belief and oral his- 
tory; about the disturbance of ancient habitations and 
of the resting places of shamans and ancestors; and 
about the bones of ancestors removed to museums 
and universities for study or exhibition. For the most 
part, archaeologists listened respectfully but in the end 
continued their traditional research pursuits. For West- 
ern scientists, knowledge was valuable for its own sake 



and would provide the Inuit and others with a tan- 
gible "real" history. 

By the 1 980s, it was clear that a conflict in values 
was in process. Archaeologists had largely approached 
their work from a Western cultural and scientific per- 
spective that made little sense to the Inuit. Where ar- 
chaeologists saw sod houses and tent rings, Inuit read 
these same structures as dwelling places of their an- 
cestors, and in some cases knew them as the homes 
or burial places of their parents and grandparents. When 
archaeologists removed artifacts from ancient houses 
and villages, Inuit saw this theft of their heritage as 
serving only the interests of southern museums and 
the careers of outsiders whose books they rarely saw 
and could hardly understand. Ancient sites and remains 
had existed forever in the minds of the Inuit. They had 
played among them as children and had found relics in 
the walls and floors of their old houses and tent sites. 
They had collected artifacts as curiosities and had 
learned about their ancestors by listening to elders 
speak about memories stimulated by chance finds of 
old harpoons and artifacts. For the Inuit, the remains of 
the past lived among them and inspired them, and 
they felt they should remain with them. 

This clash of values did not erupt overnight; it ac- 
cumulated over the years as Inuit people watched ar- 
chaeologists come and go with their instruments, pho- 
tographs, and boxes of specimens. In the early days of 
research in the North, circumstances required archae- 
ologists and local people to live and work so closely 
together that the contrast between Western and Inuit 
values was less apparent. But in recent decades, with 
the arrival of aircraft and radios, archaeologists and 
other scientists, government administrators, inspectors, 
and specialists of all kinds flooded the North, and the 
local personal bonds that once existed between Inuit 
and visitors has weakened. Gradually, Inuit began to 
see that if archaeological work was to continue, it had 
to continue on terms more favorable to Inuit interests. 
The pursuit of archaeology had to become something 
valued by the Inuit as well as by outsiders. 

During the past twenty years, a growing move- 
ment to realign the goals of archaeology with the 
aspirations of native people has taken root. Native 
resistance to external administration, and to southern 
appropriation of northern cultural resources, has led to 
a variety of new governmental structures, including 
the establishment of Home Rule in Greenland and Nuna- 
vut in Canada. Recent land claims agreements with 
northern native groups include provisions for regulat- 
ing access to cultural resources. During the past de- 
cade native groups — the Labrador Inuit Association, 
Inuit Tapirisat of Canada, the Alaskan Federation of 
Natives, and regulatory groups like the Inuit Heritage 
Trust — have instituted policies that influence or regu- 
late government permitting structures in favor of local 
communities. Policy statements establishing standards 
for ethical conduct of science in the North have been 
implemented, and community consultation structures 
that require archaeologists and other scientists to con- 
fer regularly with local communities have been cre- 

As a result of these procedures, local participation 
in archaeology and environmental science is increas- 
ing. Science institutes and support centers have been 
established in a number of northern towns and cities, 
and institutions of higher learning, like Arctic College in 
Iqaluit, have been created to bring education directly 
to northern residents, with the result that the number 
of local people actively participating in scientific 
projects has expanded rapidly. With land claims and 
new political authorities giving communities property 
rights over much of the land surrounding their villages, 
the stewardship and responsibility for "managing" ar- 
cheological and historical sites has been transferred to 
local hands. Soon, many northern villages will have their 
own culture centers and the larger municipalities will 
have facilities to house and interpret cultural resources. 

These conditions create a new context for archae- 
ology in the North that was not envisioned by our 
archaeological elders when they began their work 
during and after World War II. They, like the Inuit elders 



they worked with, had to confront many changes in 
the way they conducted their research. While this span 
of time has been extremely productive in scientific 
advances, it has also been a time of great social trans- 
formation. The discipline of archaeology, once a kind 
of arcane knowledge that was largely inscrutable to 
northern residents, has emerged into a public arena 
where it has found itself politically vulnerable and in- 
creasingly under the control of financial and political 
forces beyond the "academy." Whether we like it or 
not, the old scientific values that motivated the ex- 
pansion of archaeological research — scholarship, 
knowledge, excitement of exploration and discovery — 
are rapidly being replaced by a new politics and a 
new science in which social relevance and local inter- 
est and authority are increasingly central issues of 
archaeological concern. 

Also increasingly important are the purposes to 
which archaeological knowledge is put. One of the 
major criticisms made by Inuit of archaeologists is that 
the results obtained, as well as the finds themselves, 
have not been made accessible to northern people. 
To some degree, Inuit still know their past through the 
medium of oral history as told by their elders. While 
Inuit are not averse to augmenting this source of knowl- 
edge with archaeological and environmental data 
(Weelaluktuk 1 980), they wish to see archaeology con- 
ducted in a way that benefits their communities more 

For these reasons, archaeologists who have previ- 
ously communicated the results of their work to scien- 
tific peers and government permitting authorities have 
begun to recognize the need to make their work avail- 
able to a local audience. As a result, popular books, 
films, videos, archaeological and historical exhibitions, 
media programs presenting research results in local 
schools, and training opportunities for local youth have 
become important aspects of archaeological research. 

In reality, what has evolved over the past several 
decades is a kind of archaeology that was not envi- 
sioned by our elders but is one that has come to 

dominate contemporary work and, undoubtedly, will 
do so in the future as community involvement in ar- 
chaeology increases. In the process, the role of the 
archaeologist in generating research questions and 
capabilities that satisfy scientific peer committees 
will not be the only criterion upon which the success 
of research programs will be judged. In this context, it 
would appear that arctic archaeology as it has been 
practiced in the twentieth century has already passed 
into history. While it may be difficult to pinpoint a 
moment in time when major changes occur in an evolv- 
ing discipline, it is clear that during the last two de- 
cades of the twentieth century the social conse- 
quences of arctic science came more into focus. We 
believe that the quest for a pure intellectual rationale 
for northern studies has ended and a new paradigm 
based on community relevance and local participa- 
tion in all phases of investigation, stewardship, cul- 
tural resource management, and educational values 
has begun. 

The discipline of arctic archaeology has come to a 
divide in the road where the practitioners have met 
the descendants of the ancestors. Whether this is a 
crossroads or a convergence remains to be seen, but 
it does seem an opportune time to look back at the 
discipline's own trail to consider a history of the prac- 
tice of archaeology in the Eastern Arctic in order to 
retrieve a sense of the practitioners themselves, of the 
opportunities and issues that motivated them, and their 
experiences in conducting fieldwork in what is no longer 
a remote, inaccessible land. 

A Rationale for History 

Prior to World War II, the Circumpolar North was dis- 
tant and nearly inaccessible; it was an exotic land- 
scape filled with icebergs, polar bears, and people 
whom Westerners had come to call "Eskimos." This 
was the "heroic period" of arctic archaeology when 
explorer-scientists arrived by dogsled and boat. In those 
days, logistical constraints often necessitated spend- 
ing a year or more with a native host community. Eth- 



nology was an important part of an archaeologist's 
skills then, and one had to learn the language of the 
hosts and participate in the full round of subsistence 
activities. Field crews consisted nearly entirely of in- 
digenous hunters and seamstresses, and every aspect 
of archaeology from discovery to interpretation 
emerged from this association. 

In the postwar years, there was a huge expansion 
of archaeological and scientific work in the Eastern 
Arctic at a time when traditional Inuit societies were 
undergoing rapid change. Relocation, economic strati- 
fication, expansion of medical and educational services, 
introduction of new technology and housing, welfare, 
and the establishment of a military infrastructure were 
imposed and had far-reaching impacts. Archaeologists 
witnessed and experienced many of these changes 
firsthand, but they have had remarkably little to say 
about them. Few have published on their observations, 
and few have seen their notes and photographic 
records as valuable resources documenting a major 
period of transition. 

After the war, the increased militarization and ad- 
ministration of the Arctic, the ease of logistics brought 
about by aviation, and eventual village centralization 
of a previously dispersed population, made access to 
the outermost reaches of the North ever easier. Most 
archaeologists were no longer willing to spend a year 
or more in the remote settings their intellectual curios- 
ity took them to. Rather than hiring local assistants, 
they began bringing in students and gradually became 
independent from native communities. And while ever 
ready to champion the people in whose land they 
worked, distances emerged as research interests and 
results diverged from the needs and concerns of na- 
tive communities. 

During the last twenty years, much of the circum- 
polar north has been transformed. Satellites now bring 
American and Canadian television networks to every 
community in Arctic Alaska and Canada. No one lives 
entirely in the country. And although village elders still 
retain an identity predicated on subsistence activities 

and associated religious practices, for many, especially 
those born after 1960, their cultural legacy has been 

With the resolution of land-claim negotiations, north- 
ern native peoples from Siberia, Greenland, Canada, 
and Alaska are becoming increasingly empowered to 
mandate activities taking place on lands under their 
jurisdiction. Together with their newfound political 
autonomy, they are demanding a role in various as- 
pects of the production of knowledge concerning their 
ancestors — especially as concerns archaeology. 

Shifting Intellectual Climate 

Twenty years ago, Albert Dekin, one of the few schol- 
ars to take an explicitly historical interest in the devel- 
opment of arctic archaeology, found himself at a dif- 
ferent crossroads: 

The winds of intellectual change are blowing 
across the Arctic. This is a time of interpre- 
tive and synthetic flux. It is clearly not a time 
to draw historically meaningful lines between 
periods of intellectual development. Perhaps 
it is best to seek evidence of interpretive 
change and to point in directions toward 
which Arctic archaeologists may be tending. 
(Dekin 1978:159) 

In outlining future prospects for arctic archaeology, 
Dekin pointed toward the broadening of perspectives 
to include modeling, human-environmental relation- 
ships, climatic influence, sampling strategies, growing 
governmental involvement in cultural resource man- 
agement, the increasing residence of archaeologists in 
the North, multidisciplinary approaches, and the growth 
of publication outlets. 

While Dekin's primary interest was in demonstrat- 
ing the scholarly development of archaeology as 
an intellectual pursuit, two of his comments pre- 
saged changes that, by the time of the 1 993 Elders 
Conference, had become watershed issues affecting 
all aspects of the field: the growth of Inuit and govern- 
ment involvement in archaeological programs, and the 
increasing use of archaeology as an applied science 
for training and education in northern communities. In 



1 994, the glimmerings of a new role for archaeology 
anticipated by Dekin twenty years earlier had taken 
center stage, eclipsing a century of dominance of north- 
ern research by the scientific paradigm and changing 
the way many archaeologists approached scientific 
problems and fieldwork opportunities. 2 Eastern Arctic 
archaeology is now collaborative and embraces a va- 
riety of voices. Research results also have to meet the 
scrutiny of community officials and administrators and 
resource managers closely tuned to local desires and 
aspirations. Archaeologists have seen their roles 
change from authoritative purveyors of scientific knowl- 
edge to listeners and facilitators. To a large degree, 
they have become technical advisors working in col- 
laboration with community interests. 

Seen in this light, this publication marks a multi- 
tude of transitions. As our archaeological elders pass 
on their versions of our collective history, we all have 
become aware that far more has changed than merely 
field methods and research questions. In this case, 
generational change has coincided with political and 
social transformations that will forever alter the meth- 
ods of twentieth century science as practiced in the 
North. New governmental and financial regimes, per- 
mitting processes, institutional relationships, oversight 
committees, and many other changes are having pro- 
found effects on the science of archaeology. Our el- 
ders conducted their careers during a time when sci- 
ence was remarkably isolated from nonacademic con- 
cerns. Then, the major problems facing the fieldworker 
often were funding, logistics, and the North's ever-pow- 
erful capacity to confound one's best-laid plans. To- 
day our world is smaller. We can still be weathered in; 
still face unexpected interruptions and delays; and still 
rely on intuition even as we apply new technology to 
our work. But as we do so, we are increasingly mindful 
that arctic archaeology, as it has been defined for more 
than one hundred years, is now being driven by a dif- 
ferent set of interests than those that drove the inves- 
tigations both of the first-generation pioneers and of 
the second-generation researchers, our mentors. 

It is our intention that this volume enables us to 
step back into the discipline's past in order to bet- 
ter understand its roots and development. Arctic 
archaeologists have been remarkably chary to write 
of themselves and their work from a personal or anec- 
dotal point of view. As a result, the published literature 
on the history and biography of Eastern Arctic archae- 
ology is sadly undernourished. Few have written about 
their background or of their field experiences, despite 
the fact that most maintained field diaries and notes 
that could enrich scientific knowledge through an in- 
formal ethnography of the North, personal experiences 
of fieldwork, and events that transpired that had a 
bearing on how they, and we, have come to under- 
stand one part of the arctic past. Some notable ex- 
ceptions include J. Louis Giddings's (1 967) Ancient Men 
of the Arctic, Frederica de Laguna's (1977) Voyage to 
Greenland; Stuart Jenness's (1 991 ) Arctic Odyssey: The 
Diary of Diamond Jenness, 1913-1918; Peter Schleder- 
mann's (1996) Voices in Stone; and Graham Rowley's 
(1 996) Cold Comfort: My Love Affair with the Arctic. It 
would be a tragedy if our accumulated backlog of 
unreported scientific work engaged our "golden 
years" to the point of exclusion of personal history 
and observations. 

The Need for a Native Archaeology 

The goal of the Elders Conference and of this work 
also was to recognize past developments and accom- 
plishments as well as new directions. Archaeology has 
moved into the forefront of issues important to north- 
ern peoples today for a variety of reasons. Understand- 
ing the past is only one of these. Others, far more influ- 
ential among the general population of today's chang- 
ing North, are how the past is studied, interpreted, and 

The interest now being expressed by northern 
people in their past is not only academic; it also has to 
do with a range of issues stemming from a century of 
experience with archaeologists and other scientists liv- 
ing in and working out of their communities. And, as 



noted above, all too often scientists have failed to 
inform communities about their research either before 
or after the completion of their work, or have not taken 
the initiative to develop relationships with local au- 
thorities and community representatives, or have failed 
to present the results of their findings to local institu- 
tions, schools, and media. 

The importance of producing popular publications 
for northern communities cannot be understated, and 
their absence, particularly in the Eastern Arctic, has 
encouraged the view that archaeologists and other 
scientists have pursued careers independent of the 
interests of local residents. Despite efforts to inform 
communities, few projects have found the means to 
communicate the results of their work. Scientific pub- 
lications are generally too technical for popular con- 
sumption; museum collections are far removed from 
their place of origin and only rarely find their way 
back to the communities because of lack of inter- 
est, funds, or facilities. Even archaeologists who wish 
to make themselves available for community dis- 
cussions often make the mistake of scheduling vis- 
its during the summer season when local residents 
are away from their villages at summer camps and 
fishing stations. Popular publications are rarely de- 
signed to engage rural audiences, and few attempts 
have been made by northern school systems to ab- 
stract scientific and historical information for local cur- 
ricula. The lack of museums in the North and absence 
of archaeological exhibitions in the south that could 
produce illustrated catalogs that northern residents 
could appreciate, and the absence of television or ra- 
dio programming featuring archaeological discoveries 
and interpretations have all contributed to the intellec- 
tual and social isolation of academic archaeology from 
the northern public. 

Many researchers have spent considerable efforts 
in maintaining ties with local communities and have 
sent copies of reports and publications back to vil- 
lages for local distribution. Most made efforts to have 
their projects reviewed locally even before this was a 

legal or administrative requirement. In the case of our 
elders, most developed close relationships with local 
families during the many years of their association, 
exchanging gifts, bringing northern youth south for 
schooling, and sending care packages and photo- 
graphs. But as the years passed and younger genera- 
tions of Inuit leaders assumed control, these old alli- 
ances, and those that developed among the younger 
generations of researchers, often failed to meet the 
tests of an increasingly politicized dialogue that pit- 
ted northern residents, local authorities, southern sci- 
entists, and government officials against one another. 
In this climate, archaeology has come to symbolize a 
history of domination and manipulation by the larger 
society in general. In a number of instances in the 
1980s, local communities shut down archaeological 
programs that had been underway for years, and in 
doing so sent signals to archaeologists and govern- 
ment authorities that communities would no longer 
honor unilateral decisions made in remote southern 
committees on issues of special or even of symbolic 
importance to them (Helmer and LeMoine, this volume). 

Perhaps the most innovative aspect of northern 
archaeology as it is practiced today is the degree to 
which research has come to be integrated with com- 
munity perspectives and concerns (discussed in greater 
detail below). It's clear that the future of the past will 
include a variety of voices, archaeologists and histori- 
ans, hunters and storytellers, Inuit and qallunaat, and 
that our perceptions, insight and knowledge will be 
richer for it (Nicholas and Andrews 1 997). 

The Journey: Themes and Approaches 

Despite its venerable age, little attention has been given 
to the documentation and analysis of the history and 
theoretical development of Eastern Arctic archaeology. 
In the rush to create an arctic prehistory, the discipline 
has eschewed a reflective consideration of the history 
of the field and, in particular, has considered only those 
historical aspects that have had a bearing on theo- 
ries of culture history. The earliest papers treating the 



history of the discipline are only little more than two 
decades old (Dekin 1 978; Taylor 1 977) and treat only 
classic research themes. Others began to appear only 
in the 1 990s, in the form of festschrifts for prematurely 
deceased or retiring archaeologists (Cilberg and Gullov 
1 997; Morrison and Pilon 1 994). 

This volume, while dedicated to the exploration of 
the history of Eastern Arctic archaeology, has not been 
prepared consciously as formal history. To do so would 
have entailed a different format as well as a different 
stimulus for the project. The need for such a study is 
readily acknowledged; indeed, the archaeology of the 
North has suffered in its absence. While the fault is ours, 
few northern specialists have been willing to divert 
their attention from the expansion of knowledge to 
the documentation of how that knowledge has been 
accumulated. Those that have (Dekin 1 978; Fitzhugh 
1972b; Harp 1964b; Larsen 1961; Noble 1972; Park 
1 998; Taylor 1 968) have often considered the history 
of regional studies rather than of the North Ameri- 
can Arctic or the Eastern Arctic generally (see, how- 
ever, Collins 1 984; Harp 1 984). Only Dekin (1 978) can 
be credited with a broader effort. Dekin's work was 
produced from a bibliographic base, and his 1 61 -page 
essay alternates stylistically between an annotated 
chronology of publications and periodic analysis and 
generalization. His periodization (table 1.1) reflects 

general chronological trends and developments in the 
field, but fails to explore in depth many of the issues 
and questions that have concerned investigators. Now, 
with the broad framework of regional culture-history 
established throughout the Eastern Arctic, is an ideal 
time for a reassessment and update of Dekin's pio- 
neering work. The contents of this volume are offered 
more as grist for that mill than to serve as a substan- 
tive contribution to a much-needed comprehensive 
historical analysis. For that reason, we provide only a 
skeletal history, referenced to only a limited degree 
and decidedly biased in terms of the authors' lack of 
experience or familiarity with many aspects of the field. 

World War II changed everything relating to arctic 
archaeology in this region. Dekin's bibliography pro- 
vides one measure of the change: twelve pages are 
devoted to pre-1945 activities while 140 pages dis- 
cuss work from that period to 1 976. We cannot here 
aspire to summarize the fifty postwar years of Eastern 
Arctic archaeology. Rather, we outline a framework to 
which the papers presented at the Elders Conference 
can be attached. The themes have been broken out as 
follows: (1) origins research, (2) pioneering research, 
(3) the post-World War II era, (4) expansion and profes- 
sionalism, (5) the Santa Fe Conference and the "core 
area" concept, (6) surveys and environmental archae- 
ology, (7) historical archaeology and European-Native 

Table I . // Dekin's outline of arctic research periods and persons. 

Period Designation Date Range Notable Persons 

Explorers and Ethnographers 

1 750 


Steensby, Mathiassen, Pinart, Dall 

Expeditions and Pioneers 


1 935 

Rasmussen, Mathiassen, Jenness, 
Collins, de Laguna, Holtved 

Chronologists and Prehistorians 

1 935- 

1 960 

Quimby, Knuth, Collins, Harp, Mary- 
Rousseliere, Maxwell, Taylor, Larsen, 
Laughlin, Freed, Ciddings, MacNeish, 

Archaeologists and Anthropologists 

1 960 

1 970 

McChee, Irving, Dekin, Nash, Tuck, 
Fitzhugh, VanStone, Plumet, Merbs, 
Wenzel, McCartney, Kent, Campbell, 
Hadleigh-West, the Clarks 

Recent Period 

1 970 

1 978 

Arundale, Schledermann, Hartweg, 
Wright, Cordon, Morlan, Cinq-Mars, 
Noble, Cook, Workman, Turner, Aigner, 



contact studies, (8) government programs, funding, and 
resource management, (9) international research and 
collaboration, (1 0) bones, stones, and symbolism, (11) 
synthesis and popular prehistory, and (1 2) community 
archaeology. Embedded in this historical discussion are 
a variety of research themes that include questions 
concerning ethnic origins and interaction, circumpolar 
contacts, cultural ecology and environmental model- 
ing, nationalism, the management of cultural resources, 
and native education and training. 

Origins Research 

Early European explorers entering the Eastern Arctic for 
the first time were astonished to discover Inuit people 
living comfortably throughout much of the region. With 
the exploration of Alaska and Siberia, it was realized 
that the Inuit "oecumene" was the largest culture and 
linguistic area of the world. The peopling of the Arctic 
remains an extraordinary account of human ingenuity 
and flexibility, and one of the most vivid testimonies 
to the hunting heritage of humankind. 

To Europeans who became familiar with the new 
discoveries in arctic North America, the question of 
the origin of the Inuit became a puzzle of global di- 
mensions. Martin Frobisher, noticing the Asian appear- 
ance of the Baffin Inuit and their copper ornaments in 
1 576, believed he was at the entrance of the fabled 
Northwest Passage to China. Later explorers looked 
eastward to the Sami and Samoyedic peoples of north- 
ern Russia for Eskimo origins, ideas expanded upon by 
David Crantz (1767), an early Danish historian and 
Greenland geographer. However, it was H. J. Rink's 
1887 to 1891 investigations of Creenlandic language 
and culture that first pointed toward Inuit origins in 
Alaska (Collins 1984:8). 

With no convincing explanation of Eastern Inuit ori- 
gins forthcoming from Inuit oral history either in 
Greenland or in Baffin, studies of this question took 
divergent directions. One group followed the German 
Kulturkreiss school that emphasized diffusion and mi- 
gration. Similarities between Eskimo technology and 


/.// Charles Francis Hall and Koo-ou-le-arng on 
Kodlunarn Island in Frobisher Bay, Nunavut. 

finds from the Paleolithic and Mesolithic cultures of 
Western Europe prompted some researchers to link 
Eskimo origins with the northward-advancing peoples 
who followed reindeer and Ice Age mammals into the 
arctic zones of northern Europe and Russia (Dawkins 
1874). In the meantime, Danish scholars began to rec- 
ognize two phases in the history of Greenland: an early 
stone age culture found prevalent in the deep middens 
of West Greenland (Solberg 1907) and a more recent 
culture resembling that of modern Greenlandic Eskimo. 
Subsequently, Danes advanced a series of theories of 
"Paleoeskimo" and "Neoeskimo" origins in North Amer- 
ica based on linguistic, geographical, and ethnographic 
reconstructions (Birket-Smith 1929; Hatt 1916; 
Steensby 1917; Thalbitzer 1 904). Similarly, Franz Boas 
(1902) argued for Canadian Arctic origins with subse- 
quent expansion of Eskimo peoples into Alaska. 

An alternate route toward understanding the past — 
that of archaeology — had been gathering steam in 
Europe since the mid-nineteenth century. Archaeology 
provided a scientific method independent of history 
and ethnology. Arguably, its first application to a spe- 
cific problem in the Eastern Arctic was Charles Francis 
Hall's investigations of Kodlunarn Island in southeast 


Baffin Island (fig. 1.1). His work in 1861-1862 linked 
the remains of roof tiles, ceramic crucibles, coal, Euro- 
pean wood, and iron with Inuit oral historical accounts 
of early qallunaat and historic records of the Frobisher 
voyages (Fitzhugh and Olin 1993; Hall 1865). Further, 
he sought to preserve his finds and records through 
full publication and museum storage. 

The lost relics of European explorers figure signifi- 
cantly in resolving an- 
other historical problem, 
namely, the fate of the Sir 
John Franklin expedition. 
In 1854, while searching 
for remains of the lost 
Franklin expedition on 
Boothia Peninsula, John 
Rae acquired an array of 
artifacts that Inuit had col- 
lected from the trail of 
camps left by the doom- 
ed Franklin party as it 
struggled over ice and 
arctic islands toward the 
mouth of the Back River 
(May 1855; Rae 1855). 
The relics were the first 
hard evidence of the miss- 
ing Franklin party to reach 
England, ending nine years 
of speculation over their 

fate. Subsequent search expeditions found additional 
traces of the lost explorers. These finds, including rel- 
ics and skeletons, and eventually a single document 
preserved in a stone cairn, spelled out the expedition's 
tragic demise. The recovery of Franklin relics from Inuit 
who had found them, and others collected during 
the intensive surface surveys conducted by the search 
expeditions, are among the first archaeological finds 
recovered in the Central Arctic (fig. 1 .2). During this 
period, the waters of the Eastern Arctic were crowded 
with search expeditions that scoured the previously 

/ .2/ Relics of the Franklin Expedition recovered by the 
British Franklin Search Expedition, 1 857-1859. 

unvisited central arctic region for traces of the lost 
party (Sutherland 1985). 

Franklin-era exploration also produced the first de- 
tailed maps of the Eastern and Central Canadian Arc- 
tic, and the expedition narratives were eagerly con- 
sumed by the lay and scientific communities of the 
day for they provided detailed accounts of the physi- 
cal, biological, and cultural dimensions of the polar 

world. The narratives also 
provided numerous refer- 
i *. ences to abandoned Inuit 

. il ' " ' Si s ii'.'W'tiSi i, 

villages and provided the 
most detailed documenta- 
1 tion of the day on Inuit 

...nil' j peoples of the Central Arc- 

tic. These early accounts, 
however, always begged 
the question of Inuit history 
and origins. 

While Hall's report on 
his activities at Kodlunarn 
Island qualify him as the first 
practitioner of "problem- 
oriented" archaeology in 
the Arctic, he was soon 
joined by others with an 
interest in reconstructing 
the past. T. G. B. Lloyd's 
(1 874) antiquarian study of 
artifacts and dwelling re- 
mains in southern Labrador produced the first pub- 
lished report on this region's prehistory. His work was 
preceded by mid-century collections of archaeologi- 
cal material recovered from Thule graves and Dorset 
village sites sent by Moravian missionaries to their 
brethren in Saxony, England, and Switzerland, but these 
materials never became the object of scientific study. 
Tantalizing suggestions of the antiquity of Inuit land 
tenure gradually accumulated in the wake of the in- 
creased pace of scientific interest in the North brought 
about in part by the collections acquired tangentially 


by researchers associated with the First International 
Polar Year in 1 882-1 883 (Barr 1 985; Boas 1 888; Greely 
1 888). In 1 900, Captain George Comer collected Es- 
kimo artifacts from Southampton Island that were ana- 
lyzed by Boas (1907), and between 1915 and 1917 
Comer excavated sites around Smith Sound, including 
"Comer's Midden" (Wissler 1918). Solberg's (1 907) analy- 
sis of the West Greenland stone age materials was the 
first study to apply newly developed European stan- 
dards to "stone age" cultures in Greenland. 

Pioneering Research 

Two expeditions figure significantly in the early history 
of Eastern Arctic archaeology. The Stefansson-Ander- 
son Arctic Expedition of 1913-1918 enabled a young 
anthropologist, Diamond Jenness, to conduct fieldwork 
in the Western Canadian Arctic and Alaska. Exploring 
the region between the Coppermine River and Point 
Hope, Alaska, Jenness and Stefansson excavated ar- 
chaeological sites that provided the first evidence of 
deep time depth for Inuit cultures in this region (Jenness 
1923a; Stefansson 1914a, 1914b; Wissler 1916). 

With the commencement of Knud Rasmussen's Fifth 
Thule Expedition of 1921-1924 archaeology in the 
Eastern Arctic became a fully professional, mission-di- 
rected enterprise. Rasmussen's colleague, Therkel 
Mathiassen, conducted excavations at several prehis- 
toric Eskimo sites in northern Hudson Bay and found 
that their basic features linked them to remains previ- 
ously discovered in the Thule District of West Greenland. 
Ultimately, however, he surmised (correctly) that the 
Thule culture had originated in Alaska and believed 
(mistakenly) that they were the first people to colo- 
nize the Eastern Arctic (Mathiassen 1927b). 

Mathiassen was proven correct in his assessment 
of Thule's Alaskan origins by the work of Diamond 
Jenness and Henry Collins in Bering Strait, but he re- 
sisted for many years the idea that a pre-Thule Dorset 
culture had existed in the Eastern Arctic, despite the 
abundance of stone tool midden sites in West Greenland 
and Canada. This concept had been advanced by 

1 2 

Jenness as a hypothesis based on finds culled from a 
collection of mixed materials presented to the National 
Museum in Ottawa (Jenness 1 925). Dorset remains were 
subsequently recognized in many sites throughout the 
Canadian Arctic and Subarctic. By the beginning of 
World War II, the existence of the Dorset-Thule sequence 
had been accepted by all arctic workers, and virtually 
all believed that Thule replaced Dorset and was the 
ancestral culture of most, if not all, living Inuit peoples 
of the region, including Greenland. 

The Fifth Thule Expedition inspired other research 
throughout the Eastern Arctic, in Labrador, W. D. Strong 
(1 930) described the "Eskimo-like" Indian culture of the 
central Labrador coast; Junius Bird's 1 927 work on the 
development of Labrador Inuit culture revealed 300 
years of contact history with Europeans (Bird 1 945); 
and Leechman's 1935 excavations in Killinek revealed 
Thule and Dorset presence (Leechman 1943). In New- 
foundland, Jenness (1929b) pointed out Dorset paral- 
lels between Beothuk and Dorset harpoons, and 
Wintemberg (1939, 1940) conducted surveys docu- 
menting the presence of both Dorset and Indian sites. 

In the Hudson Bay, research by Quimby (1 940) ad- 
vanced the case for a local Manitunik culture that 
blended Dorset and Indian features but later proved 
to be a result of stratigraphic mixing of two distinct 
occupations. And farther north, Graham Rowley (1 940) 
in 1 939 excavated the first pure collection of Dorset 
materials from Abverdjar where he recovered many 
remarkable art objects (fig.l .3). 

The greatest archaeological activity in the Eastern 
Arctic in the pre-war period, however, was an exten- 
sive survey of Greenland conducted between 1 929 
and 1935 by Mathiassen, Holtved, Degerbol, Larsen, 
and others that resulted in a huge publication output. 
A corresponding research program by Aage Roussell 
(1936, 1941) and his colleagues Christen L. Vebaek 
and Poul Norland focused on the Viking's Eastern Settle- 
ment and Western Settlement. 

One aspect of the growth of Eastern Arctic ar- 
chaeology is in the degree to which the emerging 


discussion of Dorset culture figured in 
schemes of Northeastern prehistory. As 
regional sequences were defined 
throughout the eastern United States 
and adjacent Canadian provinces, inves- 
tigators were challenged by increasing 
evidence for a far greater antiquity for 
their prehistoric assemblages than had 
previously been assumed and for in- 
creased evidence of interregional con- 
tact, influence, and exchange. A sym- 
posium held at the American Anthropo- 
logical Association meetings in Andover, 
Massachusetts, in 1941 culminated in 
Man in Northeastern North America 
(Johnson 1 946). This was perhaps the first 
symposium that sought to place Eastern Arctic cul- 
tural developments in the wider context of Northeast- 
ern archaeological and ethnographic traditions; it was 
also the last meeting in which cultural anthropologists 
and ethnologists worked closely together at archaeo- 
logical interpretation. While this was an important step 
forward from a past that had been overly dependent 
on Boasian and Danish ethnographic schools, it thrust 
upon archaeology a scientific, technical, and quantita- 
tive paradigm that failed to appreciate the role of cul- 
ture and behavior. The importance of the meeting was 
to present arctic archaeology as a fully professionalized 
field with a deep commitment to continental-scale in- 

This brief review finds Eastern Arctic archaeology 
at the threshold of World War II with the bare outlines 
of its culture history identified. Only in Greenland were 
there substantial quantities of excavated collections 
and published reports. Dorset culture was known 
throughout the region, including in subarctic Labrador 
and Newfoundland. Pre-Dorset was not yet a glimmer 
in the archaeological eye, and Thule was known in 
several regional and developmental stages — from the 
Norse-influenced Inugssuk culture of West Greenland 
to the historical era. Environmental studies had not yet 

1.3/ Postcard of Dorset carvings from Abverdjar, collected by 
Graham Rowley in 1939 

been applied to archaeology, and relationships to 
Alaska and beyond remained unknown and unexplored. 

The Post-World War II Era 

After 1 945, archaeology in the Eastern Arctic advanced 
at a rapid pace. Using the newly established military 
bases and government infrastructure, and — signifi- 
cantly — air transportation, archaeological research in 
the North was transformed. Another important institu- 
tional change had occurred at this time — the creation 
of a national archaeological program organized by 
Diamond Jenness at the National Museum of Canada. 
Jenness invited Henry Collins, a friend and colleague 
since Jenness's early work in Bering Strait in 1926, to 
begin archaeological work in the Central Canadian Arc- 
tic. Between 1948 and!955, Collins led expeditions 
to northern Hudson Bay, Southampton Island, and Baffin 
Island. He confirmed Dorset antiquity and established 
its first developmental sequences. At Crystal-2 and 
Resolute, he found ceramics and Punuk-like harpoon 
heads that proved Early Thule links with Alaska, and 
iron tools that came from Greenland's Cape York me- 
teor fall. And at the near end of the timescale, he specu- 
lated that the ethnographic Sadlermiut might be a relic 
Thule-influenced Dorset population. Among Collins' 


most important contributions was providing the first 
arctic field experience for William E. Taylorjr., James V. 
Wright, and J. Norman Emerson, all of whom became 
leading figures in the rapidly growing field of Canadian 
archaeology. For years, Taylor goaded his arctic col- 
leagues with his stimulating wit, persuasiveness, and 
productivity. His dissertation research (Taylor 1 968) con- 
firmed the "in-situ" model of the Pre-Dorset to Dorset 
transition in western Hudson Strait, and his introduc- 
tion provided an excellent history of the Dorset prob- 
lem. A "WET" festschrift (Morrison and Pilon 1 994) pro- 
duced for Taylor just before his premature death paid 
tribute to the career of a scholar whose scientific and 
administrative skills were central to the foundation of 
a national program of Canadian archaeology. 

Concurrent with Collins' and Taylor's early work in 
northern Hudson Bay, Elmer Harp began surveys in 1 949 
and 1 950 in southern Labrador and western Newfound- 
land. The issue here was the "affinity" of Cape Dorset 
culture in its extreme southeastern range, deep in sub- 
arctic territory that had a long history of Indian occu- 
pation. Harp's (1 964a) analysis of the large Port au Choix 
Dorset site laid to rest the northeastern "forest theo- 
ries" of Dorset origin that had been raised by many 
archaeologists of the day (Byers 1962; Collins 1962; 
Meldgaard 1960b, 1960c, 1962; Ritchie 1962), con- 
vincingly proved its Alaskan ancestry, and hinted at its 
possible ultimate Siberian origin. 

Exploration in the postwar years rapidly filled in 
many of the lesser-known regions of the Eastern Arc- 
tic. Harp had worked in the Barrens west of Hudson 
Bay in 1955, testing (and refuting) the Danish Inland 
Eskimo origin theories. Richard ("Scotty") MacNeish 
(1956) spent two seasons working at British Mountain 
in the northern Yukon Territory searching for traces of 
Pleistocene human activity but mostly finding Arctic 
Small Tool tradition and Thule sites. Meldgaard began 
work at Igloolik, leading to his detailed seriation of 
Pre-Dorset (which he called "Sarqaq") and Dorset sites 
on raised beaches, and his identification of an Inde- 
pendence II transitional horizon between Sarqaq and 

1 4 

Early Dorset. Father Guy Mary-Rousseliere began his 
work in northern Ellesmere and Baffin Islands, and in 
southern Baffin, Moreau S. Maxwell began his long- 
term study of the Lake Harbor region. Farther north, 
Eigil Knuth had begun in 1 948 his lifelong quest of H. P. 
Steensby's "Musk-Ox Way" that defined the marginal 
and periodic 4,000-year occupations of Peary Land 
and other regions of North Greenland. And in West 
Greenland, Helge Larsen and Jorgen Meldgaard under- 
took work on stratified Paleoeskimo Sarqaq and Dorset 
sites at Sermermiut, assisted by paleoecological stud- 
ies conducted by Bent Fredskild. 

Many of these new finds were reported in two 
conferences that were instrumental in creating momen- 
tum for Eastern Arctic archaeology. The first was a se- 
ries of papers delivered at the 1 956 International Con- 
gress of Americanists in Copenhagen (Birket-Smith 
1 958). The second was a symposium held at the 25th 
Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeol- 
ogy in New Haven, Connecticut, that resulted in a vol- 
ume titled Prehistoric Cultural Relations between the Arc- 
tic and Temperate Zones of North America (Campbell 
1 962). This conference was a watershed event that 
attracted most researchers working in the Northeast 
and Eastern Arctic. The "Dorset problem" and its south- 
ern relations were center stage, and masses of new 
field data were available. Despite fascination by many 
conferees who presented papers exploring forest ties, 
Giddings's new discoveries at Cape Denbigh, and the 
new evidence presented by Taylor, Harp, and 
Meldgaard all pointed to Alaska rather than to the 
Northeast for Dorset origins by way of its Pre-Dorset 

In addition to filling in many of the geographic gaps 
across the Arctic, the first series of postwar studies 
explored a variety of theoretical, historical, and envi- 
ronmental issues. During this period, internal Dorset and 
Thule chronologies were explored stratigraphically and 
the first applications of radiocarbon dating were ap- 
plied. Culture history was (and continues to be) a ma- 
jor preoccupation of Eastern Arctic archaeology, and 


the attention it received put to rest many outstanding 
problems, including establishing Dorset as a pre-Thule 
culture, as Collins (1935) had proposed earlier; affirm- 
ing Pre-Dorset/Dorset ties with Denbigh and the Arc- 
tic Small Tool Tradition in Alaska (Harp 1 964a); con- 
firming a Pre-Dorset-Dorset continuum (Taylor 1968); 
and demonstrating relative independence of Eastern 
from Western Arctic prehistory. But it did not settle 
other issues, such as the Dorset-Norton connection or 
the hypothesized Thule "back-migration" to Alaska in 
late prehistoric times. 

Theoretical issues were also explored. Although 
culture change discussions were still dominated by 
paradigms of migration and diffusion, other approaches 
were beginning to appear. Taylor's Ivujivik work was 
the first to depart explicitly from the earlier migration 
perspective in favor of local development. Culture con- 
tact and diffusion were explored in the Dorset-Indian 
issue, and environmental change began to be seen as 
a potential cause or stimulus of culture change and 
episodic abandonment or extinction in the prehistory 
of Peary Land (Knuth 1 952), West Greenland (Fredskild 
1967; Larsen and Meldgaard 1958), and the Central 
Arctic (Maxwell 1960). Collins (1957) had begun to 
explore faunal analysis as a means of reconstructing 
prehistoric economy, and Harp and Knuth separately 
considered the impact of the environment on the sur- 
vival and regional cast of peripheral Paleoeskimo cul- 
tures. Finally, archaeologists were encountering prob- 
lems in the assumptions predicated by their use of 
"Eskimo" and "Indian" terminology to describe prehis- 
toric groups, and Pre-Dorset and Dorset culture and 
their ranges became better understood and their rela- 
tions to Alaskan and Northeast Asian cultures were 

Expansion and Professionalism 

The second half of the twentieth century witnessed 
an extraordinary expansion of science education 
throughout the Western world. Fueled in part by Cold 
War nationalism, by the growth of national science 

agendas and funds, and by the establishment or growth 
of numerous academic departments, archaeological 
research proliferated worldwide (MacDonald 1 977). 
Concomitant with this growth, especially as pertain- 
ing to northern research, was a shift from museum- 
sponsored to university-sponsored research. Interest 
in arctic archaeology increased in American universi- 
ties, led by the University of Wisconsin, which devel- 
oped a strong focus on arctic studies through the lead- 
ership of Chester Chard and William Laughlin in the 
1960s and, under Chard's direction, began to publish 
Arctic Anthropology (founded in 1 964), the first journal 
to be dedicated to this topic. Until that time, most 
research had been published in Anthropological Papers 
of the University of Alaska (founded in 1 952), or in mu- 
seum series such as the Bulletin of the National Museum 
of Canada, Anthropological Papers of the American Mu- 
seum of Natural History, and the interdisciplinary jour- 
nal Arctic. With James B. Griffin's encouragement, the 
University of Michigan began training the first genera- 
tion of postwar Canadians who later assumed leader- 
ship roles in Canadian institutions. This growth in the 
discipline, with its influx of new students and ideas, 
transformed arctic archaeology. 

The growth of academic anthropology provided 
archaeologists with tools to explore the prehistoric 
cultures of the North in ways they never could before. 
Radiocarbon dating, stylistic seriation, time-space sys- 
tematics, cultural classification schemes, and, increas- 
ingly, interdisciplinary approaches incorporating geo- 
logical, biological, climatic, and ecological modeling 
to understanding cultural dynamics, greatly enhanced 
and, some might say, embellished perceptions of the 
past. William E. Taylor, Jr., was fond of reminiscing that 
in the mid-1 950s all of the practicing archaeologists in 
Canada could — and often did — fit into one station 
wagon in order to drive to the Society for American 
Archaeology meetings. With the growth of archaeol- 
ogy throughout Canada, the Canadian Archaeological 
Association was founded in 1967, providing its own 
forum for intellectual discussion. 


The rapid accumulation of new field data trans- 
formed northern research. It is beyond the scope of 
this paper to itemize the actual advances of the 1 960s 
and 1 970s, region by region, but in general the period 
can be categorized as one of regional intensification 
that saw detailed, sustained research across the North 
American Arctic, for example, Harp (1964a, 1976a) in 
Newfoundland and Hudson Bay; Fitzhugh (1972b, 
1976b), Schledermann (1971), and Tuck (1975b) in 
Labrador; Maxwell (1 973), Marv-Rousseliere (1 964), and 
Schledermann (1975) on Baffin Island; Wright (1972a) 
in the Central Canadian Barrens; Taylor (1 967b, 1 972) 
and McChee (1971, 1972b, 1974) in the Western Ca- 
nadian Arctic Archipelago; Schledermann (1978a) on 
northern Ellesmere Island; and Knuth (1967) in north- 
ernmost Greenland. Major developments during this 
period were the definition of the Maritime Archaic cul- 
ture in Newfoundland and Labrador as the "Eskimo- 
like" Indian culture of the Far Northeast; establishment 
of Igloolik as the pro tern standard for Paleoeskimo 
evolutionary development; a full culture-historical 
breakdown of Pre-Dorset, Dorset, and Thule cultures; 
and the recognition of strong environmental controls 
over cultural development, distributions, and absences. 
In contrast with the busy earlier decades, few publica- 
tions about and little work in Greenland occured dur- 
ing this period. 

The Santa Fe Conference and the Core Area Concept 

By 1970, archaeological practitioners, flush with a 
wealth of new data, struggled with organizational 
schemes that could systematize the accumulation of 
regional data sets within broader temporal and geo- 
graphical contexts. In 1 973, a conference titled "East- 
ern Arctic Prehistory: Paleoeskimo Problems" was con- 
vened at the School of American Research in Santa Fe, 
New Mexico, to address the integration of the archaeo- 
logical record and assess the possibilities of interre- 
gional modeling and synthesis. The Santa Fe meeting 
was, in part, an arctic answer to the ferment instilled 
by the "new" or "processual" archaeology that had been 

advanced during the previous decade in the United 
States, but which until then had made little impact on 
northern specialists, who were still in the preliminary 
stage of exploring culture history. Whereas previous 
arctic archaeological interpretations had borrowed 
heavily from ethnographic models (Schindler 1 985), the 
Santa Fe conference (Maxwell 1 976c) generated a con- 
sensus for new models of prehistoric culture change 
that were more explicitly archaeological. 

Influenced by apparent contrasts in ecology and 
human settlement history between central and periph- 
eral regions of the Canadian Arctic and Greenland, the 
participants came to agree on a "core area" model as 
a new integrative concept for Eastern Arctic prehis- 
tory (Maxwell 1976b). Combining earlier ideas of cul- 
ture change by invention, migration, and diffusion with 
newer concepts of demography, adaptation, and ecol- 
ogy, they found that much of the diversity and change 
observed in the region could be explained by biogeo- 
graphic interaction of environment and culture (Fitzhugh 
1976a; Maxwell 1976a, 1976b; McGhee 1976b). Spe- 
cifically, it proposed that the Central Arctic regions 
(the "core") in northern Hudson Bay and Hudson Strait, 
where food resources were relatively abundant and 
predictable, had archaeological records that indicated 
continuous occupation and gradual stylistic evolution. 
By contrast, areas (the "periphery") with poor or unpre- 
dictable resource abundance, such as in the High Arc- 
tic, North and East Greenland, the area west of Melville 
Peninsula, and southern Hudson Bay, had records indi- 
cating intermittent, short-term occupations and less 
gradualist culture change. Prehistory in such regions 
was thought to have been governed by alternating 
cycles of migration, florescence, and extinction, fol- 
lowed by abandonment, before improved conditions, 
usually brought about by warmer climate or resource 
regeneration, made a new occupation cycle possible. 

The core area concept dominated the outcome of 
the Santa Fe conference and much of the archaeologi- 
cal development that followed. Combining newer and 
more dynamic concepts of the environment and a more 


systemic approach to cultural adaptation and change, 
archaeological data for the first time could be mar- 
shaled into an overall explanatory framework that took 
regional and area-wide variation into consideration and 
explained culture history as a process, not, as previ- 
ously viewed, as a response to vaguely defined diffu- 
sion or migration events. In addition to a more "real- 
time" view of linkages between culture and environ- 
ment, the conference reflected such "new archeology" 
approaches as systems theory (Nash 1 976), demogra- 
phy and settlement patterns (Harp 1 976a), and new 
analytical techniques (Dekin 1976), as well as impor- 
tant refinements of more traditional subjects like ra- 
diocarbon dating (McChee and Tuck 1976; see also 
Arundale 1981; Morrison 1989) and culture history 
(Fitzhugh 1 976b). The conference also stimulated con- 
troversy as archaeologists of the post-Santa Fe era 
attempted to fit regional data into the core area model 
and discovered the need for refinement and accom- 
modation of more diverse interpretive structures 
(Bielawski 1 988; Cox 1 977, 1 978; Helmer 1 981 ; Odess 
1996, 1998; Plumet 1987; Schledermann 1978b). 

The 1 960s and 1 970s also saw a more concerted 
attempt at environmental archaeology. Previous work, 
such as Steensby's geographical approach and Larsen 
and Meldgaard's use of Fredskild's pollen curves and 
climatic interpretation, did not meet modern standards 
of explanation by failing to identify the mechanisms 
by which cultures were influenced by environmental 
change. The "it got colder and culture changed" expla- 
nations (to paraphrase an oft-repeated Tom McGovem 
quip) were now recognized as explaining little. 
McGhee's (1969/70) paper answered this critique by 
proposing a specific scenario that proceeded from a 
demonstrated environmental event (climate warming 
= decreased ice cover in the Central Arctic) to an adap- 
tive cultural change (expansion of Thule whaling east- 
ward), which produced an observable archaeological 
change (Thule culture sites in the Eastern Arctic). Simi- 
lar applications of cultural ecology were developed 
during this period for culture change in Peary Land (Knuth 

1 967), Labrador (Engstrom et al. 1 984; Fitzhugh 1 972b; 
Fitzhugh and Lamb 1985; Foster 1983a, 1983b; Jor- 
dan 1 975a, 1 975b; Short 1 978), Hudson Bay (Fitzhugh 
1 976a), Baffin Island (Schledermann 1 975), and Green- 
land (Meldgaard 1977; Petersen 1974-1975). Some of 
these models were later challenged for being too en- 
vironmentally deterministic (Schindler 1985), for lack- 
ing sufficient environmental data, or for failing to link 
environment and culture in a definable way; but they, 
nevertheless, advanced understanding beyond the level 
of earlier migration models. 

Surveys and Environmental Archaeology 

Another category of research that developed during 
this period grew out of intensive survey programs that 
sought to develop more detailed site inventories and 
land-use patterns. Rather than taking the site as the 
focus of archaeological work as most earlier projects 
had done, settlement pattern archaeology was directed 
at cultural behavior in landscape units of varying sizes 
and across ecological or geographical boundaries. This 
work attempted to reconstruct cultural adaptation 
types and seasonal movements throughout an annual 
subsistence cycle to better understand cultural pat- 
terns and variability — variability in residence type, 
economy, technology, and assemblage— on a syn- 
chronic horizon. Building from smaller to larger land- 
use units (band, multiband, inter-ethnic territories), and 
crossing ecological borders, allowed this approach to 
integrate culture histories at larger scales and seek data 
on the interaction of whole cultures with changing 
environments through time and space. Steensby's 
(1917) first steps in this direction had been expanded 
in the 1 930s by Danish researchers who mapped the 
Norse farms and churches in Greenland. In Canada, 
the use of surveys as a method for finding sites had 
begun with the Fifth Thule Expedition of 1921-1924 
(Mathiassen 1927b) and were employed by William J. 
Wintemberg (1939, 1940) and Elmer Harp (1951) in 
Newfoundland and by the latter in Keewatin (Harp 
1958), as well as by Eigil Knuth (1967) in Peary Land. 


But integration with environmental studies and cultural 
ecology did not begin to play a role in regional ap- 
proaches until Harp began his survey and aerial pho- 
tography project on the east coast of Hudson Bay 
and the Belcher Islands (Harp 1 976b). Building on Harp's 
model, William Fitzhugh (1972b, 1977b, 1980b) ap- 
plied environmental analysis and broad-scale survey 
techniques to the culture history of the forest-tundra 
boundary in Labrador and, together with his associ- 
ates (Hood 1981 a; Jordan 1975a, 1975b; Kaplan 1983; 
Loring 1992; Nagle 1984), developed an integrated 
view of Eskimo and Indian culture change and environ- 
mental interactions. Less environmental but equally 
broad in regional scope were Patrick Plumet's surveys 
of the New Quebec coast and northern Labrador, re- 
ported extensively in a new monograph series he es- 
tablished called Paleo-Quebec. 

An important contribution to survey methods was 
made when archaeologists began to collaborate with 
geologists to develop land-emergence curves based 
on radiocarbon-dated shells, whale bones, and some- 
times archaeological site samples (Andrews et al. 1 971 ; 
Plumet 1974). A long-term program of geological and 
archaeological dating in Labrador eventually led to the 
construction of detailed marine limit and uplift curves 
for the entire Labrador coast (Clark and Fitzhugh 1 991 ; 
Fitzhugh 1972b, 1973). In addition to informing on 
settlement pattern changes and paleogeography, these 
data led to the discovery that glacial ice had persisted 
on the central coast into Early Maritime Archaic times 
(Clark and Fitzhugh 1 990). 

At the same time, and continuing into the 1990s, 
regional surveys expanded rapidly throughout the East- 
ern Arctic and Greenland as transport facilities and sup- 
port improved, aided in Canada especially by helicop- 
ter hours provided by the Polar Continental Shelf Project. 
The most extensive survey in the Central Canadian Arctic 
was organized by Allen McCartney and James Savelle 
in the early 1 980s to inventory early Thule whale-bone- 
bearing sites, partly as a response to site damage by 
contemporary Inuit removing whale bone and partly 

to learn about early Thule settlement patterns, whale- 
hunting strategies, and the Thule impact on bowhead 
populations (McCartney and Savelle 1 993). 

Historical Archaeology and European-lnuit Contact 

The archaeological fixation with origins research has 
long placed a premium on fieldwork that focused on 
distant prehistory at the expense of studies at less 
distant times. However, in Greenland, Danish archae- 
ologists like Daniel Bruun have been mapping and ex- 
cavating Norse sites since the 1 890s. More recently, 
Viking age settlements have been the focus of broad 
historical, environmental, and economic reconstructions 
from a total North Atlantic perspective (Bigelow 1991 ; 
McChee 1984a; McGovern 1980, 1981a, 1981b, 
1 990). The discovery of the L'Anse aux Meadows Norse 
site in northern Newfoundland, the probable "Vinland" 
of Leif Eriksson (Ingstad 1 977; Ingstad 1 969; Wallace 
1 991 , 2000a, 2000b), has done much to put archaeo- 
logical flesh on the alluring bare bones of Norse sagas. 

While great progress was made in Paleoeskimo re- 
search, the archaeology of the historical era in the North, 
both of European sites and of Inuit sites at contact, 
has lagged behind prehistoric archaeology and only 
recently has gained the attention it deserves. Relatively 
few post-contact Inuit sites in the Arctic have been 
excavated scientifically despite the fact that many of 
them have been of great historical interest to latter- 
day explorers, tourists, historians, and anthropologists. 
Several projects utilized historical (i.e., European) ma- 
terial culture as an integral part of their studies (e.g., 
Fitzhugh 1 985a;Jordan 1 978; Jordan and Kaplan 1 980; 
Kaplan 1983, 1985), but it is only recently that re- 
search directed specifically on the archaeology of Inuit- 
European contact has emerged, in Greenland, Frobisher 
Bay, and Labrador (Alsford 1993; Auger 1991, 1993; 
Auger et al. 1 993; Cabak 1 991 ; Fitzhugh and Olin 1 993; 
Cullason et al. 1 993; Gullov and Kapel 1 979; Henshaw 
1995; Loring 1998). In Newfoundland and southern 
Labrador, Selma Barkham's (1980) historical research 


led to the archaeology of the previously unknown 
Basque stations and shipwrecks in Red Bay (Tuck 1 982; 
Tuck and Crenier 1 989). In part, research on the recent 
past has responded to the needs and interests of na- 
tive communities that find the traces of their immedi- 
ate ancestors more interesting than those of ancient 
prehistoric inhabitants of the Arctic, while the growth 
of historical archaeology has resulted from public in- 
terest in early European settlement and the economic 
opportunities of tourism and development. These stud- 
ies have been gradually breaking down the academic 
barriers that have existed between historical archaeol- 
ogy (the archaeology of Europeans) and prehistory (the 
archaeology of indigenous people "without history"). 
There is still much fascinating research to be done on 
European-Native contact archaeology throughout the 
region, both at Inuit and at European exploration, whal- 
ing, and trading sites. Parks Canada has made signifi- 
cant progress in this direction through the preserva- 
tion and excavation of some of the most important 
European sites; and the Meta Incognita Project has pro- 
moted research on the history and archaeology of the 
Martin Frobisher voyages (Symons 2000). 

Government Programs, Funding, and Resource 

Another feature of the past fifty years that deserves 
notice even though it is not identified in the following 
papers is the changing nature of archaeological fund- 
ing and the growth of government archaeology pro- 
grams. Before World War II, most funding for archaeo- 
logical research in the North was based on private 
sponsorship by museums, individuals, or corporate 
groups, including newspapers, businesses, and research 
foundations like the National Geographic Society, 
the Royal Geographical Society, Carlsberg Foundation, 
and others. Government in some cases provided trans- 
portation and use of local facilities like the RCMP or 
the navy, but this assistance was relatively limited. Prob- 
ably the most important infrastructure used by archae- 
ologists in the Canadian North was the Hudson's Bay 

Company, whose posts scattered throughout the re- 
gion provided assistance to scientific teams as local 
"hostels," entrees into the local community, and of- 
fered both indirect and direct subsidies to field pro- 
grams. In Greenland, a similar pattern prevailed. There, 
the outstanding example of local support was Knud 
Rasmussen's post at Qannaq, whose commercial trade 
profits allowed it to fund part of Rasmussen's Fifth 
Thule expedition. In the 1940s, missions and RCMP 
stations expanded the facilities and social networks 
available to archaeologists in many of the most inac- 
cessible areas of the North. 

After the war, the growth of a southern-based in- 
frastructure in the North added a new source of sup- 
port for field archaeology. Funding by the Office of 
Naval Research provided new resources for science in 
the North American Arctic, and by the 1 960s the cre- 
ation of peer-reviewed national science councils and 
research foundations in Canada and the United States 
made it possible to support a great increase in non- 
museum-based university research. Later, in Canada, 
support from oil and gas exploration through the Polar 
Continental Shelf Project provided invaluable assistance 
in logistics and transportation. The rapid growth of 
village-based government programs and facilities 
throughout the Canadian North after 1960 brought 
another source of resources into the reach of perenni- 
ally cash-starved arctic research projects. 

Growth in governmental programs explicitly de- 
voted to supporting archaeological collecting and re- 
search also occurred in the south. Before the 1 960s, 
archaeology was conducted in the North by research- 
ers and museum scientists who operated largely inde- 
pendently of controlling authorities outside their home 
institutions. Although Canada has had legislation pro- 
tecting archaeological materials in the Arctic since 
1 926 (fig. 1 .4), actual oversight and management of 
field research and archaeological collections did not 
become feasible until the National Museums of Canada 
(later the Canadian Museum of Civilization) became a 
central authority in the permitting process in the 1 960s. 


Since the predomi- 
nant territory of the 
Eastern Arctic fell 
within the North- 
west Territories, Ot- 
tawa was the nexus 
for administering ar- 
chaeological initia- 
tives throughout the 
region and the de- 
pository for the col- 
lections at the Ar- 
chaeological Survey 
of Canada (ASC). 
The latter organiza- 
tion was created at 
the National Muse- 


j • 

license to i-kienttsts ano explorers 
to enter tfjc J^ortf) OTest tEerritorieS of Canaba 

lUnbcr autljorit? of tlic .floril) 2£lest tTcrritorieB 9tt, being Cljap. 02. 1\.&.<C. 1906, ftertion 8. Subsection "a". anO an 
cDcbnuntr tticreunbrr regulating the issuing of licenses oe permits lo Scientists or explorers lo enter tlje .ftortb JJJest (Territories, 
permission is hereby granteb 

- TV' £?kiam- . . 6chMC<x<Hi . &btow<» .: — — 

of. — - KepresentingS^eSictoiJTbi^.Hivi^'Cfou,^ 

to enter tlir £!ort(i VMM STcrritoiieS ol Canaba, for tlje purpose of Scientific or exploratory inuestigation, subject 
to tl)t nrobiSionS recite!) in tijc saio iDrbmancc, tlje conbilions ol totuelj are on tlje barlt hereof. 

Ellis license expireS-3L*?^Qeceiufeeii.l9X8-:-r— — — • . 

iPtDen unber nip tjanii ano Seal of tlje i^orlb (ffilest territories at ©ttntoa tins.. . .17/? 

baj> of ^-w-we — in tlje pear ol <0ur Eorb One Eliousanb ilmt Snmbreb 

(ma Svyeti-t^.T SevetK.— 


1 .4/ William Duncan Strong's permit to conduct scientific research in the North West 
Territories, Canada, 1927 to which Strong attached photographs of himself and the 
Bowdoin in Frobisher Bay. 

urns of Canada in the early 1 970s, in part to strengthen 
its funding base and its national leadership role in ar- 
chaeological research and resource management. 
These developments also led to a national registry of 
archaeological sites and collections. While these 
changes consolidated much of the control over arctic 
research within the Archaeological Survey of Canada, 
developments within the provinces having arctic lands, 
especially in Quebec and Newfoundland-Labrador, and 
more recently the Northwest Territories/Nunavut, led 
to agreements with Ottawa that resulted in their as- 
suming regional management authority for their arctic 
materials. Today, conservation has been added as an 
important management function, and decentralization 
has strengthened regional authorities like the Prince of 
Wales Northern Heritage Center. During this period, de- 
velopment of a community response process has given 
local communities important input into the permitting 

A parallel process has developed under the aegis 
of Parks Canada to support archaeological and histori- 
cal research on sites within the growing jurisdiction 
of this agency. Originally mandated for major south- 
ern sites like Louisburg and other nationally registered 

historic properties, Parks Canada's involvement in arc- 
tic landmark sites, historical places, and national parks 
has resulted in a steady growth of its role in arctic 
archaeology, and one that is certain to become more 
important in this age of shipborne and adventure tour- 
ism. While Parks Canada's interests are site-specific rather 
than regional and its priorities are based more on man- 
agement and preservation than on research, its increas- 
ing support for research, conservation, publication, and 
public information is becoming a major force in sup- 
port of arctic archaeology. 

As archaeology became both more popular, and 
sometimes more controversial, from the local perspec- 
tive, government expanded its archaeological programs 
beyond the mere permitting process and began to 
make research results available to the public. The 
establishment of the Archaeological Survey of Canada 
monograph series at the National Museum of Man in 
1972 has provided a crucial mechanism for publica- 
tion of major works. The annual publication series, Ar- 
chaeological Research in Newfoundland and Labrador, 
beginning in 1 980, provided annual research updates 
for this province; the Quebec Government Service du 
Patrimoine began to issue periodic reports and bibli- 


ographies (Martijn 1998); the Danes began to provide 
annual abstracts in the 1 980s and, with the establish- 
ment of the Danish Polar Center, have recently up- 
graded them to full-scale reports (Arneborg and Gullov 
1 998); and the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Cen- 
tre began publishing illustrated abstracts of archaeo- 
logical projects for popular consumption in the early 
1 990s. The past decade has also seen important insti- 
tutional developments facilitating archaeological work 
in the Eastern Arctic, including the creation of the Arc- 
tic Studies Center at the Smithsonian's National Mu- 
seum of Natural History in 1 988, the Danish Polar Cen- 
ter in 1 989, and the Greenland Research Center at the 
Danish National Museum in 2000. 

International Research and Collaboration 

For the most part, Eastern Arctic archaeology has ben- 
efitted from international cooperation and access, with 
a minimum of politics and acrimony. Undoubtedly, 
the basis for this situation resides in political his- 
tory, especially that of the Canadian North, which has 
been more open to international research than has the 
Danish sector. 

The "open" nature of the Canadian Arctic resulted 
as much from a long history of British, Scandinavian, 
and American exploration as from its commercial his- 
tory in which the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC), whal- 
ing, and mining interests provided many routes of ac- 
cess for English-speaking scholars (e.g., Hall's discov- 
ery of the Frobisher sites came as a result of assistance 
provided by the New Bedford whaling community; 
Stefansson's arctic explorations in 1914-1917 were 
facilitated by the HBC and other commercial parties, 
as was the Danish Fifth Thule Expedition that followed 
in 1 921 -1 924). After the Fifth Thule Expedition, which 
brought Scandinavians into the Canadian Arctic and 
Alaska, for the most part Nordic scholars gravitated to 
Greenland while British, Canadian, and American schol- 
ars took up work in Canada. In the 1 960s, however, 
Jorgen Meldgaard, a Dane, excavated at Igloolik; Anne- 
Stine and Helge Ingstad, Norwegians, discovered and 

excavated for six years at the L'Anse aux Meadows 
Norse site in Newfoundland; and in the 1970s, Tho- 
mas McGovern participated in Nordic projects at Norse 
sites in Greenland. American involvement in Canadian 
arctic and subarctic archaeology has been extensive, 
beginning with Henry Collins's work on Southampton 
Island, Frobisher Bay, and Resolute; Elmer Harp in the 
Barrens, Newfoundland, Labrador, and Hudson Bay; Allen 
McCartney in Hudson Bay and the Central Arctic; Will- 
iam Fitzhugh, Richardjordan, Steven Cox, Susan Kaplan, 
Christopher Nagle, and Stephen Loring in Labrador; and 
Fitzhugh, Anne Henshaw, and Daniel Odess in Frobisher 
Bay, to mention only a few. Most of these projects 
also included Canadian students and professionals. 

The more recent history of international work in 
the Eastern Arctic is alluded to in some of the papers 
presented in this volume. The impacts of attempts to 
restrict access to foreign archaeological projects, ap- 
plied first by the Danes in Greenland and later, more 
selectively, by Canadians in the Canadian Arctic, were 
justified, to varying degrees, as a way to help preserve 
archaeological resources for exploration by home na- 
tionals. Far more effective in developing nationality- 
based programs of arctic archaeology have been 
the hiring practices of American and Canadian uni- 
versities and museums in all of the arctic-interest coun- 
tries and the pressures applied on foreign researchers 
indirectly and directly through funding and transport 
allocations, access to students, and support of local 
community organizations. Two American projects, in 
particular, could provide interesting case studies in 
Canadian archaeological politics: Allen McCartney's and 
James Savelle's (McCartney 1979; McCartney and 
Savelle 1 993) Thule Whalebone Conservation Project 
and the Archaeology of the Frobisher Voyages Project 
conducted by the Smithsonian's Arctic Studies Center 
between 1990 and 1993 in collaboration with the 
Canadian Meta Incognita Project (Alsford 1993; 
Fitzhugh and Olin 1 993; Fitzhugh 1 997). Both had sig- 
nificant Canadian participation in their scientific teams, 
and both experienced political difficulties. 


Bones, Stones, and Symbolism 

Although brief mention has already been made of 
new ecological, climatic, and environment research ap- 
proaches, techniques of microanalysis have contrib- 
uted much to the development of the field in the past 
three decades. Advances in archaeometric techniques 
have made it possible to identify ("fingerprint") and trace 
lithic materials by petrographic, age, and /or chemical 
signatures from site to quarry (or region), allowing ar- 
chaeologists to reconstruct prehistoric cultural influ- 
ence, trade, exchange, and migration. To date, these 
techniques have been applied primarily in Labrador and 
northern Quebec to quartzites, cherts, soapstone, and 
nephrite ( Allen et al. 1 978, 1 984; Archambault 1 981 ; 
Boutray 1 981 ; Fitzhugh 1 972b; Cramly 1 978; Lazenby 
1 980; Nagle 1 984, 1 986; Plumet 1 977, 1 979c, 1 981 b; 
Rogers et al. 1 983), but such studies will be equally 
valuable for similar interpretations throughout the East- 
ern Arctic. Some institutions, like the Archaeological 
Survey of Canada, have established lithic resource type 
collections. Studies of iron, copper, and bronze have 
been of particular use in distinguishing native metals 
from those introduced from Asia or by the Norse (Buch- 
wald and Mosdal 1985; Harp 1974-1975; McCartney 
and Mack 1 973; Schledermann 1 980). Similarly, research 
on cloth, yarn, and cordage from frozen Norse sites in 
Greenland has resulted in the identification not only of 
fibers of domestic sheep, goat, and oxen, but also of 
caribou, polar bear, arctic fox, arctic hare, and possibly 
musk-ox, as well as distant contributors like brown 
bear and bison, suggesting contact and perhaps trade 
between Norse and Dorset or Norse and Thule peoples 
in Canada (Berglund 1 998, 2000). Musk-ox hair twine 
and rope were in use among Dorset people in the Eastern 
Arctic (Andrews et al. 1 980; Jordan 1 980) and the pres- 
ence of Norse yarn, fabrics, bronze objects, and Euro- 
pean wood in Dorset and Thule sites in Baffin and 
Ellesmere raise further the possibility of more extensive 
interaction between the Norse and these Canadian 
peoples (Schledermann 1 980; Sutherland 2000). 

Archaeozoological applications have also contrib- 
uted much to the understanding of prehistoric diet, 
economy, environmental adaptation, and seasonality, 
and are universally conducted now as part of the stan- 
dard suite of analytical techniques (e.g., Cox and Spiess 
1980; Gronnow et al. 1983; Henshaw 1995, 1999; 
McCovern 1980; McGovern et al. 1983; McCovern et 
al. 1996; Mohl 1972; Spiess 1978; Stenton and Park 
1994; Woollett 1999). Paleoecological studies of in- 
sect microfauna have provided information about Vi- 
king migration, domestic living conditions, and climate 
change in Greenland and the North Atlantic (Buckland 
2000), and identification of archaeological wood and 
charcoal has produced information on regional envi- 
ronmental history (Fitzhugh 1 978a), ocean currents and 
climatic history seen through the lens of driftwood 
(Eggertsson and Laeyendecker 1995), and imported 
Elizabethan technology at the Frobisher Baffin Island 
sites (Laeyendecker 1 993a, 1 993b). Most recently, in- 
terdisciplinary research that has become a hallmark of 
Viking studies around the North Atlantic rim coordi- 
nated by the North Atlantic Biocultural Organisation 
(NABO) (McGovern et al. 1988; Ogilvie and McGovern 
2000) has returned for another phase of research ex- 
ploring the complex forcing mechanisms between cli- 
mate, environment, and culture in Labrador Inuit cul- 
tural development (Kaplan and Woollett 2000). Similar 
studies are now being conducted in western and north- 
ern Newfoundland by Priscilla Renouf, Trevor Bell, and 
Joyce MacPhearson. 

On a more humanistic note, researchers have ex- 
plored symbolic meaning expressed by the dichotomy 
of terrestrial and marine worlds seen in the segregated 
use of ivory and antler artifacts associated with land 
and sea hunting (McGhee 1977), while others have 
explored Maritime Archaic spiritual ties to landscape 
expressed in engraved soapstone pendants (Fitzhugh 
1 985c), or have explored the mystical mind of Dorset 
people or the sexual symbolism of Thule material cul- 
ture as seen in their art, clothing, and shamanistic imple- 
ments (Jordan 1979-80; McGhee 1974-75; Meldgaard 

2 2 


1960a; Sproull-Thomson and Thomson 1981; Suther- 
land 1997; Swinton 1967; Taylor 1967a; Thomson 
1982). Even ideas about handedness and the possible 
impact of European diseases on the demise of Dorset 
and Thule people have been tentatively explored 
(McGhee 1994). And although gender has not been 
the explicit focus of prehistoric study, it forms the core 
of such investigations as Cabak's (1991) research on 
the interactions between Moravian missionaries and 
the adoption of village life by Inuit in Labrador and 
Gullason's (1999) exploration of 500 years of Thule- 
Inuit culture in Frobisher Bay. Finally, the meticulous 
ethnolinguistic and photographic documentation 
seen in Norman Hallendy's (2000) Inuksuit: Silent Mes- 
sengers of the Arctic established the first treatment of 
symbolic cultural landscapes to be explored in the cir- 
cumpolar region. 

Synthesis and Popular Prehistory 

One of the important outgrowths of the intensive re- 
search of the 1960s-1980s was the publication of 
several book-length archaeological syntheses. Follow- 
ing several early overviews by Henry Collins and Dia- 
mond Jenness, the first comprehensive treatments by 
Hans-Ceorg Bandi (1 969) and Don Dumond (1 977) cov- 
ered the entire North American and Greenland Arctic. 
Eigil Knuth (1 967) produced a synthesis of Peary Land 
archaeology in 1967. In 1 977, Jorgen Meldgaard pre- 
pared a regional synthesis for Greenland and Will- 
iam Fitzhugh produced a regional overview of La- 
brador, and in 1 978 Robert McGhee published a popu- 
larized treatment, Canadian Arctic Prehistory. That same 
year, James A. Tuck published a similar overview, New- 
foundland and Labrador Prehistory, and a year later Vol- 
ume 5 of the Smithsonian Institution's Handbook of 
North American Indians (Damas 1 984) appeared with 
overviews and specific treatments on Canadian Arctic 
and Greenland archaeology (Fitzhugh 1 984a; Jordan 
1984; Maxwell 1984; McGhee 1984b). However, it 
was not until 1 985 that a truly comprehensive Eastern 
Arctic study appeared, Prehistory of the Eastern Arctic 


(Maxwell 1 985), providing researchers, students, and 
the public for the first time with a detailed overview, 
including excellent photographs, illustrations, and 
maps, of the Eastern Arctic's 4,000-year culture his- 
tory. More recently, McGhee's (1 996) Ancient People of 
the Arctic updated the Bandi and Dumond overviews, 
and two symposia synthesized information on Paleo- 
eskimo cultures (Grannow and Pind 1996; Memorial 
University 1986). Also during this period archaeology 
in Nunavik (Nouveau-Quebec) advanced rapidly, fol- 
lowing the work of Taylor and Plumet and the institu- 
tion of journals like Recherches Amerindiennes au Quebec 
(since 1 971 ) and Etudes Inuit Studies (since 1 977). 

Following in the personalized tradition of Louis 
Giddings's Ancient Men of the Arctic is Peter Schleder- 
mann's (1 996) Voices in Stone, an account of his work 
in Ellesmere Island. Also emerging from the "Ancient Men" 
tradition were other more popular works. Robert 
McGhee's (1 976a) booklet The Burial at L'Anse- Amour 
about a 7,500-year-old Maritime Archaic burial in south- 
ern Labrador was the first dramatized reconstruction 
to put flesh on the stones and bones of northern Cana- 
dian prehistory. This was followed by Thule Pioneers 
(Bielawski et al. 1 986), an overview of Thule culture 
produced for northern residents, and Priscilla Renoufs 
( 1 999) book Ancient Cultures, Bountiful Seas: The Story 
of Port au Choix, a popular account of the archaeol- 
ogy of Port au Choix, Newfoundland. Peter Schleder- 
mann's (2000) recent novel, Raven's Saga, reconstructs 
Norse and Inuit cultures and contacts in northern 
Greenland and Ellesmere. The appearance of popular 
series produced for (and more recently by) Inuit, such 
as Inuktitut, issued by the Department of Indian and 
Northern Affairs in Ottawa, and Tumivut ("our foot- 
steps"), published by the Avataq Cultural Institute in 
Quebec, makes information on Inuit culture, history, 
literature, art, and archaeology available to a general 
northern audience. 

Finally, as the elders' generation has matured, fest- 
schrift volumes have appeared for William E. Taylor 
(Morrison and Pilon 1 994), Eigil Knuth (Grannow and 

2 3 

Pind 1 996), Jorgen Meldgaard (Cilberg and Cull0v 1 997), 
and Elmer Harp, Jr. (this volume), offering new perspec- 
tives on Eastern Arctic archaeology and its history. 

Emergence of Community Archaeology 

While arctic archaeologists have always revelled in the 
glory of the northern landscape, with its inherent ad- 
venture and its freedom for vistas and imagination, still 
the most compelling aspect of fieldwork is the oppor- 
tunity provided to meet and travel with the people 
whose homeland it is. There is a long history of north- 
ern native colleagues working with archaeologists, as 
guides, provisioners, crew members, caretakers, and 
informants. As resourceful as many archaeologists be- 
lieved themselves to be, there was always the knowl- 
edge that should supplies run low, logistics be dis- 
rupted, travel routes confused, or knowledge about 
resources, weather, or the terrain be desired, local com- 
munity members could, and often did, provide critical 
insight and help. In this respect, and much more, north- 
ern native peoples have always figured significantly in 
Eastern Arctic research. 

In retrospect, it was presumptuous for archaeolo- 
gists from the south to have hoped to really under- 
stand the world of northern hunters. Perhaps this might 
never have been possible, and certainly not without 
the insight and knowledge of the people who reside 
there. Perhaps more so than anywhere else in the world, 
northern archaeology is still closely linked with similar 
lifestyles, subsistence patterns, and behavioral strate- 
gies to those that existed in the past. Northern archae- 
ology has always retained a strong ethnographic bias, 
derived in part from Inuit insight and knowledge. Yet 
archaeology has remained primarily an exercise de- 
vised by, and created for consumption by, audiences 
far to the south of the localities from which this knowl- 
edge was extracted. With this fact in mind, it seems 
appropriate to question the motives of archaeology 
as they might be perceived by northern natives: Is ar- 
chaeology only another expression of Western "impe- 
rialistic" tendencies? Having gained control over land 

and resources, is Western society now extending its 
hegemony over the past as well? Perhaps more reflec- 
tive in its middle age, arctic archaeology has in the 
past decade or so re-dedicated itself to the challenge 
of creating a past that has interest and meaning for 
Inuit consumers as well as for the traditional outlets of 
scholarship. Archaeologists, however, have been slow 
to meet this challenge (Cirouard 1 977; Swinton 1 977). 

Arguably, the most significant development in arc- 
tic research since Dekin's review has been the growth 
of what is generally now called "community archaeol- 
ogy" (Loring 2001; Nicholas and Andrews 1997; S. 
Rowley, this volume; Stenton and Rigby 1 995). Com- 
munity archaeology is committed to addressing com- 
munity agendas and needs. It combines the expertise 
and training of archaeologists with the insight and 
knowledge of community leaders and educators in 
order to provide experiences and training for Inuit young 
people. The participation of and reliance on Inuit el- 
ders is a critical component of such endeavors. The 
elders provide interpretations of the archaeological 
features and assemblages; the knowledge and beliefs 
they convey in interviews and stories reaffirm Inuit com- 
munity values and testify to the validity and signifi- 
cance of Inuit knowledge. Frequently, cultural, histori- 
cal, and community values are strengthened as a con- 
sequence of such projects. In addition to the goals of 
traditional archaeology, which mandate primarily the 
growth of knowledge through publications and 
archiving of collections, community archaeology 
projects typically result in local exhibits, school pro- 
grams, and, in some cases, the resulting collections 
remain in the North. 

To the extent that community interests and initia- 
tives define the need for research, many aspects of 
community archaeology were anticipated by the Thule 
Archaeology Conservation Project begun by Allen Mc- 
Cartney and James Savelle in 1976, which sought to 
meet the needs of Inuit artisans for archaeological whale 
bone (McCartney 1 979). The project trained Inuit crew 
members and was instrumental in instilling a sense of 


concern for the preservation of historic structures at a 
community level. From a scientific point of view, the 
project has paid extraordinary dividends, for it marked 
the inception of an international interdisciplinary research 
regime now more than twenty years old (McCartney 
and Savelle 1993). At about the same time, in Green- 
land, archaeologists experimented with the possibili- 
ties of including archaeological experiences as part of 
the program at summer youth camps that saw heri- 
tage projects as a means of reaffirming traditional com- 
munity values. 

From a historical perspective, archaeological re- 
search has been used to support specific community 
needs. Demonstrating past land use has been a critical 
feature of land-claim negotiations in the Arctic, and 
archaeologists have participated in the past by com- 
piling land-use and cultural chronology position pa- 
pers in support of land claim litigation (Fitzhugh 1 977a; 
Jordan 1977; McGhee et al. 1976). But while this re- 
search was in support of community mandates, it was 
presented in a format and structure characteristic of 
professional archaeologists. 

The continuity between the past and the present 
in the North makes archaeology a logical extension of 
ethnography and, perhaps not surprisingly, has spawn- 
ed its own discrete literature (e.g., Janes 1983). Oral 
history research that addressed such questions as tra- 
ditional land-use, settlement-subsistence strategies, the 
nature of camp structures and activities, and the role 
of exchange in social life are obviously of significance 
to archaeology. Examples of archaeological research 
that have specifically incorporated oral history into field- 
work methodology include a project with the Inuvialuit 
on Herschel Island and the Yukon North Slope (Nagy 
1994b), surveys by the Arviat Historical Society 
(Henderson 1997), and Webster's (1994) Piqquiq Re- 
search Project with Baker Lake elders at traditional 
caribou crossing places on the Kazan River, among 
others. The Baker Lake Historic Sites Project in 1 983 
(Kabloona 1984; Stewart et al. 2000) was a commu- 
nity initiative to develop the tourist potential of old 


Thule ruins. These projects all combined professional 
archaeologists working with community elders and 
native interns to document and understand traditional 
sites. Coinciding with the increasing sensitivity of ar- 
chaeologists to Inuit concerns about research has been 
a pronounced commitment to employing Inuit students 
in fieldwork. Native organizations like the Avataq Cul- 
tural Institute, the Attikamek-Montagnais Council, and 
the Cree Regional Authority, among others, helped fa- 
cilitate student participation in prehistoric research 
conducted within their jurisdiction and associated with 
large-scale resource development. 

It is this climate of increased Inuit participation and 
interest that led a number of archaeologists to insti- 
gate fieldwork that specifically sought to address lo- 
cal interests in archaeology by providing training and 
fieldwork experience for young people. In the last de- 
cade, community archaeology projects have spread 
across Canada from the N.W.T. (Bielawski 1 984) to La- 
brador, with programs among Labrador Inuit (Cabak 
1991; Loring and Baikie 1992) and Innu (Loring and 
Ashini 2000). Two programs deserve special recogni- 
tion for their sustained commitment to community ar- 
chaeology: Susan Rowley's Ataguttaaluk Field School 
in Igloolik (S. Rowley 1 991 , this volume) and the field 
school and training opportunities provided by the staff 
of Arctic College in Iqaluit (Stenton and Rigby 1 995). 
With the increased opportunities for research and field- 
work and through the implementation of training pro- 
grams designed for northern native students (Bertulli 
1985; Suluk 1994; Webster 1985), it is clear that the 
future of archaeology in the Eastern Arctic will include 
more northerners and northern interests. 

The potential revolutionary impact of such devel- 
opments on the practice and perception of the Inuit 
past could be startling. For one thing, native archae- 
ologists would bring language skills and an aware- 
ness of community values to the practice of archae- 
ology. A native archaeology would have considerably 
freer access to community elders with their erudition 
and wisdom, their so-called traditional ecological — or 

2 5 

indigenous— knowledge (Berkes 1993; Bielawski 1996; 
Brooke 1993; Cruikshank 1981,1984; Freeman and 
Carbyn 1988; Saunders 1992; Stevenson 1996). Such 
intimate knowledge of the distribution and availability 
of resources, as well as of arctic ecology, and a histori- 
cal perception of the relationships between human 
beings and their environments, will go far to humanize 
the wilderness of arctic prehistory. An Inuit prehistory 
that includes place-names and stories (e.g., Hallendy, 
this volume) can make the past more meaningful and 
more accessible to the communities whose legacy it 
is than a past that is derived exclusively from radiocar- 
bon dates and an arcane academic synonymy. With 
such an increased political awareness and agenda, the 
future of arctic archaeology will be a collaborative 
venture probably quite different from what could have 
been imagined by the elders in the archaeological com- 
munity, but one that all will agree can only be richer for 
the sharing of insights and diversity of visions. 

The Ittarnisalirijiit Conference 

Stimulated by their involvement in the Dartmouth El- 
ders Conference in 1 993, Inuit participants Gary Baikie, 
Deborah Webster, and George Qulaut organized their 
own conference at Igloolik in February 1 994, with the 
express purpose of providing a forum for Inuit to dis- 
cuss the significance and practice of archaeology in 
their communities (Bennett 1 994; Phillips 1 994; Webster 
and Bennett 1 997). The Ittarnisalirijiit ("those who deal 
with the distant past, the time of legends") Conference 
brought together delegates from across the Canadian 
Arctic, including Inuit elders, young people, and mem- 
bers of Inuit communities with an interest in cultural 
heritage programs and archaeology. A small group of 
archaeologists who had pioneered a community-ori- 
ented approach (Paul Antone, Bjarne Gronnow, and 
Susan Rowley) were also invited. Northern television, 
radio, and print media covered the conference, which 
had as its goals "to provide an opportunity for Inuit 
archaeology and history specialists from across the 
north to meet and exchange information, and the other 

was to produce a list of guidelines for archaeological 
work in the Inuit homeland" (Bennett 1 994:2). Delegates 
ran the gamut from those calling for a total cessation 
of archaeological research to those maintaining that 
there was a place for archaeology in Inuit communi- 
ties. It was felt that because much traditional culture 
had already been lost, archaeology provided a means 
by which young people could learn more about their 
heritage and history. The conference report concluded: 

As delegates learned more about each 
other's experiences over the course of the 
conference it became clear that Inuit can 
benefit from archaeology when they partici- 
pate in it and have control over how it is 
practiced in their land. Young people learn 
new skills and gain deeper understanding of 
their own culture; elders have the satisfaction 
of passing on their knowledge to young 
people; and when the results of the research 
are shared with the people of the local 
community, they have the opportunity to 
learn more about their own history. When the 
community works in partnership with 
archaeologists on a project from beginning 
to end and Inuit expertise is used, the quality 
of the archaeological research improves. This 
benefits everyone. (Bennett 1994:3) 

Of foremost concern to the conference participants 
was to devise a means by which Inuit would be em- 
powered as full participants in the process of archae- 
ology. The conference concluded with the formation 
of a set of guidelines to govern future archaeology on 
Inuit lands. Over and over again conference delegates 
expressed concern that the knowledge of their past 
was a commodity that must be shared, and that fu- 
ture research initiatives should include video and other 
media documentation that would bring archaeologi- 
cal insight and results to local community members. 

The Dartmouth Elders Conference 

A sign of a maturing discipline is its concern with its 
origins and development. It was in light of these con- 
cerns that an academic gathering titled "The Elders 
Conference: The History and Practice of Eastern Arctic 
Archaeology" was convened at Dartmouth College in 

2 6 


Hanover, New Hampshire, on April 22-24, 1993. The 
conference sought to review the wealth of accumu- 
lated research results from the Eastern Arctic; to honor 
a large, vigorous, articulate group of "elder statesmen"; 
and to assess and evaluate progress and goals in the 
face of rapid changes in modern social, political, and 
personal values. The timing was important in the 
celebratory sense of our archaeological elders, several 
of whom were passing their eightieth birthdays (and 
Knuth his ninetieth) in that year. But it was also impor- 
tant because archaeology in the region had reached a 
major point of change in orientation and goals. It was, 
therefore, time to take stock, to understand the his- 
torical development of the field, and to chart new di- 
rections for the future. 

In contemporary Inuit communities, recognition and 
celebration of the importance of community elders 
places a premium on respect for traditional values and 
knowledge while promoting a resurgence of pride in 
Inuit identity. Even the Inuit now living semi-sedentary 
lives in relatively permanent villages still afford elders a 
special status. As the repositories of community his- 
tory they know the social obligations and intricacies 
that define group identity; their lifetime accumulation 
of knowledge and experience is critical for scheduling 
settlement and subsistence decisions; and their 
memory provides access to landscapes of myth and 
ritual. In emulating this tradition, the Elders Conference 
sought to honor and celebrate the mentors and lead- 
ers of the practice of archaeology in the Eastern Arctic. 

Motivation to hold the conference at Dartmouth 
College was due in part to recognize and celebrate 
the accomplishments of Elmer Harp, Jr., on the occa- 
sion of his eightieth birthday. His career from the 1 940s 
to the 1990s spans the years during which Eastern 
Arctic and Subarctic archaeology developed from a 
pioneering field into a fully professionalized enterprise, 
in which he played a central role and worked in a wide 
variety of regions, from Newfoundland to Keewatin. 
Equally important has been his role in teaching anthro- 
pology and in training and introducing students to the 


North, a task in which he was ably assisted by his 
ethnology colleague at Dartmouth, Robert McKennan. 

As plans for the conference progressed, the orga- 
nizers discovered that two other pioneers of Eastern 
Arctic archaeology, Graham Rowley and Father Mary- 
Rousseliere, were also celebrating their eightieth birth- 
days in this year. A convocation devoted to honoring 
their accomplishments proved to be a perfect magnet 
for bringing together an extraordinary group of their 
colleagues — pioneers themselves — including Frederica 
de Laguna, Edmund Carpenter, William S. Laughlin, Wil- 
liam E. Taylor, Jr., Jorgen Meldgaard, James V. Wright, 
and others. The presence of these "elders," who were 
trained or influenced by the founders of Eastern Arctic 
archaeology, Diamond Jenness, Henry Collins, and 
Therkel Mathiassen, provided a perfect opportunity to 
convene a conference addressing concerns with the 
history and practice of Eastern Arctic archaeology. 

After a welcoming reception on Thursday evening, 
the conference began on Friday morning at the Hanover 
Inn. The first session, "Speaking of Elders," afforded the 
senior participants an opportunity to address the 
group. Frederica de Laguna, Graham Rowley, Elmer 
Harp, Father Guy Mary-Rousseliere, and Edmund Car- 
penter reflected on their inspirations and revelations 
of fieldwork. Until nearly the last minute Eigil Knuth 
had hoped to attend, but his planning for an early 
summer departure for Greenland conflicted. He did 
send a telegram hoping to see everyone "after my 
return from Peary Land." Two afternoon sessions fo- 
cused on Greenland and on the Central Arctic. In the 
first, Jorgen Meldgaard, William Laughlin, Hans Chris- 
tian Gullov, Bjarne Gronnow, and Morten Meldgaard 
presented papers; in the second, Robert McGhee, Bryan 
Gordon, John Cook, Patricia Sutherland, and George 
Wenzel spoke. 

A banquet Friday evening offered an opportunity 
to honor Elmer Harp. Jorgen Meldgaard commenced 
the festivities with a toast in which he reminisced about 
Harp's visit to Copenhagen and a lecture that Elmer 
had presented at the old lecture hall of the Royal 

2 7 

Nordic Society for Antiquities at the Danish National 
Museum. Meldgaard allowed as how it was "a distin- 
guished performance" and how thereafter Harp was 
universally referred to as "the Gentleman from New 
England." But, as Meldgaard impishly noted, he was 
not the first to have received this accolade, for in 1831 
another "young gentleman" from New England — Henry 
Wadsworth Longfellow — had traveled to Copenhagen 
to meet Professor Carl Rafn, editor of AntiquitatesAmer- 
icanae. Rafn had an abiding interest in the Norse pres- 
ence in North America, a belief he felt was confirmed 
by the discovery of a skeleton covered with copper 
"armor" in a Fall River, Massachusetts, grave in 1831 
(Wallace and Fitzhugh 2000; Willoughby 1935: 232- 
234). While the skeleton subsequently proved to be 
that of a Native American, the specter of a Norseman 
in New England resulted in Longfellow's poem "The 
Skeleton in Armor." It remained for Elmer Harp, with his 
crew's recovery of a pendant of smelted eleventh- 
century Norse copper in a Dorset site at Richmond 
Gulf on the east coast of Hudson Bay (Harp 1974- 
1 975), to prove the poet's fancy. 

Tributes followed to Elmer as a teacher (Fitzhugh) 
and as a photographer (Renouf). Elmer's photographs 
of the community at Port aux Choix are a testament to 
the underlying humanist paradigm in anthropology 
that archaeology, at its best, is heir to. The close links 
between these fields were further elaborated upon by 
tributes to Diamond Jenness by David Morrison and 
by Susan Kaplan to her recently deceased professor 
and colleague, Richard Jordan, who, like many others, 
had begun his career as a Dartmouth student inspired 
by Robert McKennan and Elmer Harp. 

Saturday morning was devoted to papers on the 
Quebec-Labrador peninsula, where Harp's work was 
principally centered. Bryan Hood, Albert Dekin and John 
Kilmarx, Stuart Brown, Jane Sproull-Thomson and Callum 
Thomson, Christopher Nagle, Patrick Plumet, Charles 
Martijn and Jean-Yves Pintal, Moira McCaffrey, and Ian 
Badgley presented views on the history of archaeol- 
ogy in this region. The connections and relationships 

between the Northeast and the Arctic that framed much 
of the early research in this region was discussed in 
papers by Stephen Loring, Bruce Bourque, and Steven 
Cox. Then, having discussed the past, the conference 
turned towards the present with papers by Norman 
Hallendy, James Helmer, and Susan Rowley that stressed 
the significance of research conducted in collabora- 
tion with Inuit elders. 

Discussion and debate led to stories and reminis- 
cences as Saturday afternoon gave way to evening. 
On Sunday morning, discussions continued, ending with 
a presentation by the three Inuit participants at the 
conference, George Qulaut (Igloolik Research Labora- 
tory), Deborah Webster (Parks Canada, Yellowknife), and 
Gary Baikie (Torngasok Cultural Center, Nain) reflecting 
on their participation in the conference and the future 
of the past in the Canadian Arctic (fig. 1 .5). Their joint 
statement presented to the gathering seems an ap- 
propriate ending to this paper: 

Inuit respect their elders and we, Inuit, would 
like to pay respect to your elders today. Last 
night we talked about how far archaeology 
has come in our lifetime. We were also 
discussing how much further it has to, and 
will, evolve. Thanks to a lot of you, Inuit are 
starting to work "with" archaeologists 
instead of "for" archaeologists. We are also 
starting to study archaeology at various 
colleges and universities. Inuit high school 
students are becoming more involved and 
interested in archaeology. 

Inuit communities are becoming more 
involved and more outspoken. Inuit are 
asking more questions about archaeological 
work being conducted in their area and are 
wondering what happens to the artifacts 
that leave with the archaeologists after the 
field season. 

People tend to answer these questions 
themselves, and since they do not have all 
the information at hand they may come up 
with wrong answers. This may evolve into 
mistrust towards archaeologists by the 
people. This mistrust can be alleviated 
somewhat by archaeologists doing commu- 
nity consultations, or more of them, before 


7.5/ George Qulaut (speaking), Deborah Webster, and Gary Baikie ad- 
dress the Elders Conference participants. 

they actually start their fieldwork. Commu- 
nity consultations can really help archaeolo- 
gists not only show that they can be trusted 
but also provide information. With commu- 
nity involvement comes involvement of the 
elders. The elders in our communities are a 
wealth of information that is being under- 
utilized by most people. 

It is very important to us that archaeologists 
consult with people and our elders while 
planning their fieldwork. Consultation is a 
two-way street. We feel that a lot can be 
learned from archaeologists in the way in 
which they involve Inuit in archaeology. 

With the creation of Nunavut, archaeolo- 
gists will deal with the Inuit Heritage Trust. 
Article 33.4.3 reads: "The Inuit Heritage 
Trust shall assume increasing responsibili- 
ties for supporting, encouraging, and 
facilitating the conservation, maintenance, 
restoration and display of archaeological 
sites and specimens in the Nunavut Settle- 
ment Area." We look forward to the coming 
changes of archaeology on Inuit lands. 


The conference was sponsored by 
the John Sloan Dickey Endowment 
for International Understanding, 
with additional financial support 
from the Canadian Department of 
Indian and Northern Affairs, the Arc- 
tic Studies Center of the National 
Museum of Natural History at the 
Smithsonian Institution, and, at 
Dartmouth, the Institute on Canada 
and the United States, the Depart- 
ment of Anthropology, and the Na- 
tive American Studies Program. 
Evelyn Stefansson Nef and Mary 
Wesbrook also provided financial 
assistance; their long involvement 
with the Arctic has contributed much to our work. A 
special note of appreciation is due to Oran Young and 
Deborah Robinson of Dartmouth's Institute of Arctic 
Studies for their efforts as hosts and organizational 
leaders of the conference. For compiling the confer- 
ence papers into a publishable format, the volume 
editors would also like to thank Igor Krupnik, Nancy 
Benco, Elisabeth Ward, Erica Hill, and Angela Linn for 
editorial assistance, publication interns Lori Beth 
Mahaney and Elise Krueger for formatting work, and 
Marcia Bakry for her help in rendering the many illustra- 
tions submitted by contributors into their final form. 


1 . Published obituaries include: Morrison 1 996 
for William Taylor; Gordon 1994 for Father Guy 
Mary-Rousseliere; Lovis 1 998 for Moreau Maxwell; 
and Laursen 1 996 for Eigil G. Knuth. 

2. These trends have been documented for 
Canada at large in Bringing Back the Past: Histori- 
cal Perspectives on Canadian Archaeology (P. J. Smith 
and D. Mitchell 1998). 


William Duncan Strong's "Band ofNugumiut Eskimos on Sylvia Grinnell River near Koojesse Inlet, Baffin 
Island", taken during the Rawson-MacMillan Subarctic Expedition of 1927 


he j^jistory of /\rctic thnograpjit): 

5ome persona! j^efiections 


Forty-odd years of experience with, or thinking about, 
the Arctic and its peoples have led me to develop a 
number of opinions about arctic ethnography. Since 
archaeology is intrinsically linked to ethnography in 
the Arctic, more so perhaps than anywhere else, the 
editors solicited this chapter for the historical perspec- 
tive it brings to anthropological research in the Arctic.' 
In this review, I occasionally unburden myself of an 
opinion that some readers might find overly dogmatic. 
While I do not expect anyone to agree with me, I want 
you to understand the basis of my opinions. To that 
end, I begin by introducing you to some of the people 
I met and some of the experiences I had in the early 
years, which profoundly affected both my professional 
work and my outlook on life. 

Before proceeding, I wish to specify what I mean 
by arctic and by ethnography. For purposes of this 
chapter, "arctic" means the Eskimo-Aleut part of the 
world, even though much of that is technically subarc- 
tic, and even though I am omitting much of the world 
that is technically "the Arctic." I use the term ethnogra- 
phy in its conventional sense, as the process of col- 
lecting information on sociocultural phenomena 
through systematic field research directed toward 
that end. Some people who are known primarily as 
archaeologists or linguists have conducted important 
ethnographic research as well. 


My interest in arctic ethnography began sometime in 
February or March of 1 954 when an arctic explorer of 

ancient vintage, Donald B. MacMillan (1918a, 1918b, 
1927, 1943), 2 came to my school and presented an 
illustrated lecture on his arctic travels. This seventy- 
nine-year-old man was full of energy and enthusiasm, 
and he gave a real stemwinder of a speech. He also 
showed movies of country that was breathtakingly 
beautiful. At the end he said he was going to lead a 
scientific expedition to the Arctic that summer, and 
that he was looking for a couple of high school kids to 
take along. 

The next day I wrote him a letter that said, in es- 
sence, "Here I am. Take me." And he did! Traveling in 
the two-masted schooner, the Bowdoin, with a crew of 
eleven, we went up the coast of Labrador, visiting 
Hopedale and Nain, and crossed Davis Strait to Green- 
land. Then we traversed the west coast of Greenland, 
visiting Kangaamiut and Sisimiut (then Holsteinsborg), 
and sailed on to Qaanaaq and Etah (then abandoned). 
We were stopped by ice in the southern part of Kane 
Basin and forced to turn around. We returned by way 
of Baffin Island (fig. 2.1 ) and Labrador. We experienced 
strong headwinds much of the time on the way north, 
and we got way behind schedule. On the day I was 

3 3 

2.1/ Off Baffin Island, 1954 

supposed to report for 
football practice, we were 
just arriving in Pond Inlet on 
our way home. It was fan- 

As a scientific expedi- 
tion the trip was a farce, 
but it had a profound ef- 
fect on me. Not only did I 
get to see some magnifi- 
cent country, I met some 
fascinating people among 
the West Creen-landic (fig. 
2.2), Polar, North Baffin Is- 
land, and Labrador Inuit. I wanted to learn more about 
them. When we left in June, I wanted to be a field biolo- 
gist, or what was then known as a "naturalist." When 
we returned three months later, I wanted to be an 
anthropologist and work in the Arctic. 

The next issue was, where could I go to learn how 
to be an anthropologist? My father advised me that 
for my undergraduate career I should attend a college 
known for the quality of its general program. Anthro- 
pology could take care of itself for a while, and I would 
need to go to graduate school for that anyway. 

That view was very hard to argue with, so the ques- 
tion became, where should I go to college? There were 
a lot of good ones out there. For some reason I really 
wanted to get my teeth into something, which meant 
I wanted to go somewhere where I could write a the- 
sis. A lot of colleges had a thesis as an option, but at 
most of them it was a privilege that had to be earned 
through exceptionally high grades. I was not sure that 
I could meet the requirements, so I went to Princeton, 
where one had to write a thesis even if one was carry- 
ing a D- average. And, of course, I intended to major in 

The main flaw in that plan was that Princeton did 
not have an anthropology major in 1956; indeed, it 
did not even have an anthropology department. In- 
stead, there was a Department of Economics and 

Sociology, with the two sections largely independent 
of one another in anticipation of a split. Anyone inter- 
ested in anthropology was advised to major in sociol- 
ogy. In my class of some 1 ,200 people, there were 
only seven sociology majors. To my knowledge, dur- 
ing the four years I was there, I was the only student in 
the entire university, undergraduate or graduate, who 
had any interest whatsoever in anthropology. 

The only anthropology course Princeton offered at 
the time was introductory cultural anthropology, so I 
took it. Despite the fact that it was taught by a rising 
young star who later became president of the Ameri- 
can Anthropological Association, and who was also a 
fine person, I found it very boring. Field biology started 
to look kind of interesting again. 

However, I had to take several sociology courses 
in order to satisfy the requirements of my major. That 
is where I got lucky. It turned out that many of the 
sociologists at Princeton in the late 1950s were ori- 
ented to both cross-cultural and historical research. 
None of them knew anything about arctic peoples, 
but my idea of writing a thesis on the eighteenth-cen- 
tury Labrador Inuit was fine with them. 

The anthropology I had encountered in my intro- 
ductory course featured the study of social forms and 
conjectural history. The sociologists, however, were 
interested in social process. They were structural- 


functionalists who wanted to know how social sys- 
tems operate, and why they operate the way they 
do— without committing the fallacy of eufunctional te- 
leology. They were also interested in the study of so- 
cial change. I do not think I attended a single sociol- 
ogy lecture or participated in a single sociology semi- 
nar in four years at Princeton where structural-functional 
analysis and the analysis of social change were not 
presented as a single, cohesive package. Many of my 
professors had studied under or were influenced by 
Talcott Parsons, who was alleged to be an antievol- 
utionist, but Parsons visited Princeton while I was there 
and gave a talk whose central thesis was that the 
study of evolution was the wave of the future. Practi- 
cally every member of the department was an evolu- 
tionist. The interesting ques- 
tions were how and why so- 
cial evolution occurred, not 
whether it had happened, and 
not whether it was a subject 
worthy of study. Their ap- 
proach excited me then, and 
it still does. 

In 1959, between my jun- 
ior and senior years, I returned 
to Labrador for two months 
to get information for my the- 
sis. I can hardly believe now 

that I did it, because I had very little money, and I did 
not have the faintest clue about what I was doing. I 
never asked permission to come, nor did I inquire about 
how I might be received. I just went. But, once again, I 
was lucky. I was able to spend some time in the Inuit 
communities of Hebron, Nain (fig. 2.3), Hopedale, and 
Makkovik. 3 I learned a great deal and had a wonderful 

Also on the coast that summer was H. Anthony 
"Tony" Williamson. Tony had a B.A. from Dartmouth 
and was working on an M.A. in geography at McGill 
University. Although five years had passed since I had 
first acquired my own interest in the Arctic and its 

2.2/ Greenlandic girl, 1954 

people, Tony was the first person I ever met, except 
for Admiral MacMillan, who shared those interests. 
Among other things, Tony brought my attention to 
the existence of the Stefansson Collection at Dartmouth, 
and told me about a friend of his named Don Charles 
Foote. At the time, Foote was doing research in Point 
Hope, Alaska. 

I returned to college in September, wrote my the- 
sis, and graduated on schedule. One of my problems 
that year, in addition to writing the thesis, was decid- 
ing whether I should go to graduate school in anthro- 
pology or in sociology. For some reason, I happened 
to be attracted by the notion of general anthropol- 
ogy, in the North American sense. Interestingly, the 
sociologists at Princeton strongly encouraged me 

to do my anthropology 
at the University of Chi- 
cago. That was fine 
with me. Chicago had 
not only outstanding cul- 
tural anthropologists, 
but also required basic 
training in linguistics, ar- 
chaeology, comparative 
anatomy, and genetics. 
So, I went to Chicago. 
But I am getting a bit 
ahead of myself. 
While I was working on my thesis on Labrador, I 
paid a visit to the Stefansson Collection. There, I got to 
meet not only Vilhjalmur Stefansson himself but also 
Alan Cooke, who was the assistant librarian. Cooke 
asked me if I would like to spend a year in Alaska 
working for Don Foote. It was a dumb question. Cooke 
wrote to Foote on my behalf. A few weeks later, I 
received a letter from Foote, who was still in Point 
Hope. He described his research program there, which 
was part of what we would now call an environmen- 
tal impact assessment and which was being carried 
out for the Atomic Energy Commission's Project Chariot. 4 
He was looking for a research assistant. 


2.3/ Miriam Torrarak, Nain, 1959 

A rather amusing exchange of letters followed. 
Foote essentially accused me of being a wimp, and I 
suggested that he was a liar and a jerk. However, we 
worked it out, and he decided I wasn't as bad as he 
first thought. Unfortunately, Foote was among the lead- 
ing critics of the planned nuclear program of Project 
Chariot, so the members of the Atomic Energy Com- 
mission were not feeling very kindly toward him at the 
time. Accordingly, he did not get a contract for the 
position for a research assistant. Instead, Doris Saario, 
who had been in charge of the Project Chariot study 
at Kivalina in 1 959-60, was retained, but she was look- 
ing for an assistant. She hired me on Foote's recom- 
mendation. As a result, I spent the period from Octo- 
ber 1 960 to late August 1 961 in Kivalina learning about 
native life in general and subsistence in particular. Dur- 
ing most of that period, I worked on the Project Chariot 
study (Saario and Kessel 1 966), but for the last three 
months I was on my own. Then I headed for graduate 
school at the University of Chicago. 

Shortly after my arrival in Chicago, I started to find 
the cultural anthropology courses almost as boring as 
my introductory course had been at Princeton. They 
were focused on form, not process, and social evolu- 
tion was an alien concept. Even worse, I was told that 
structural-functional analysis and the study of social 

change are mutually exclusive en- 
deavors. Evidently, my sociology 
professors at Princeton had been 
too ignorant to know that, which is 
why they combined the two so suc- 

Later, I learned that many struc- 
tural-functional analyses were in- 
deed characterized by the flaws the 
critics claimed they had. I also 
learned that many researchers did 
proffer teleological explanations 
of social phenomena. But the mis- 
takes the critics seized on resulted 
from erroneous application, not 
from flaws in the basic approach. When they threw 
out the admittedly dirty bathwater, they threw out a 
very healthy baby along with it. 

Anyway, Lewis Binford was pontificating at Chi- 
cago when I was there, so the archaeology was quite 
interesting. 5 Rather than taking courses in my own spe- 
cialty, I ended up taking a lot of courses in anthropo- 
logical archaeology, a subject not included in the cur- 
riculum at Princeton when I was there. Those courses 
and a summer (1 962) spent working for Elmer Harp 
(1964a, 1976b; Harp and Hughes 1968) on a Dorset 
Culture site at Port au Choix, Newfoundland (fig. 2.4), 
were not enough to qualify me as an arctic archaeolo- 
gist, but they did enable me to claim permanent sta- 
tus as a gadfly (e.g., Burch 1 988b) in that field. 

For the past twenty-one years, I have made my 
home in south-central Pennsylvania. That seems to 
me to be a perfectly good vantage point from which 
to ponder the history of arctic ethnography, and to 
that I now turn. The perspective I bring to the com- 
ments I make below derives partly from this location, 
where I am remote not only from the Arctic, but also 
from academia. My perspective is also influenced by 
the experiences I have just summarized and by my 
fundamental interest in social process rather than so- 
cial form. 6 


Historical Overview 

I turn now to the primary subject of my chapter. For 
purposes of this review, I divide the history of arctic 
ethnography into three broad periods: early, meaning 
before 1900; intermediate, from 1900 to 1954; and 
recent, from 1954 to the present. 

Early Period 

Before 1 900, there were very few arctic ethnographers 
as I have defined those terms. Indeed, there are oniy 
eighteen people I would include in this category. There 
were lots of explorers and missionaries who recorded 
information on Eskimo social life and customs, but very 
few of them engaged in systematic research directed 
toward that end. Even the research that was done 
was carried out, in most cases, as an adjunct to some 
other duty. 

For example, several of the early ethnographers 
were missionaries: Hans Poulsen Egede (1 745), David 
Crantz (1 767), and Otto Fabricius (Holtved 1 962) in 
Greenland; Emile Petitot (1876) in the Mackenzie 
Delta; and Ivan Veniaminov (1 984) in southern Alaska. 
Although technically he does not belong in it, I will 
add Harrison Thornton (1 931 ) to the list of early mis- 
sionary ethnographers because his book on Wales, 
Alaska, covers a wide variety of subjects and because 
it was informed to a significant 
extent through participant- 
observation. Most of the early 
missionary-ethnographers ac- 
quired their expertise through 
long experience in the country. 
Petitot and Thornton were sim- 
ply keen observers who re- 
corded what they saw during 
relatively short periods of time. 

Several other early ethnog- 
raphers were either natural sci- 
entists of one variety or another, 
or people who were working on 
natural science projects. In this 

category I includejohn Murdoch (e.g., Murdoch 1 892), 
who worked at Barrow during the International Polar 
Expedition of 1881-83; Gustav Holm (1914), who 
led the Danish Cartographical Expedition to East 
Greenland in 1883-85; Edward Nelson (1899) and 
Lucien Turner (1 894), who were biologists; F. F. Payne 
(1889) and Robert F. Stupart (1887), who wrote 
about the Inuit in northern Quebec while they were 
members of the Canadian Hudson Bay Expeditions 
of 1884-85; Heinrich Holmberg (1985), who was a 
mining specialist; Hinrich Rink (e.g., Rink 1 875, 1 877), 
who began his long career in Greenland as a glaciolo- 
gist; and John Simpson (1 875), who was a surgeon on 
one of the ships in the Franklin search expeditions in 
northern Alaska. All of these people were trained sci- 
entific observers. Nelson and Simpson spent several 
years in the Arctic; Rink ended up spending decades 
in Greenland. Three of them— John Murdoch, Edward 
Nelson, and Lucien Turner—were specifically directed 
to bring back items of material culture and information 
relating to native life. 

There were two other early ethnographers whom I 
would have to call "off-the-wall" types. One was John 
Kelly (Wells and Kelly 1 890), a kind of adventurer and 
whaler who arrived in northwestern Alaska in 1 884. By 
the time Lieutenant Roger Wells got him to summarize 

2.4/ Elmer Harp and crew in Cow Head, Newfoundland, 1962 


on paper what he knew about the peoples of northern 
Alaska and Chukotka, Kelly had lived in the region for 
six years, had traveled extensively, and had acquired 
considerable knowledge of native life. The other was 
Henry D. Woolfe (1 893), a journalist who had arrived in 
northwestern Alaska even before Kelly did. Woolfe, 
who also traveled widely, wrote the descriptive piece 
on the people of the region for the 1 890 census (some 
of which was plagiarized from Kelly). 

That leaves only one person whom I have not men- 
tioned, and that, of course, is Franz Boas (Boas 1 888; 
Cole and Muller-Wille 1 984). Boas was a cultural geog- 
rapher who may have been the first person ever to go 
to the Arctic with a social science objective as his top 
priority. He set out specifically to collect information 
on human-environment relationships and on the fac- 
tors affecting human migration. In addition to other 
things that is exactly what he did. 

In many respects, the research of these pioneer 
ethnographers was extraordinary. They were working 
in difficult physical and social circumstances that were 
wholly outside their experience or training, and they 
were working in the field of ethnography, which was 
itself in a primitive state of development. Because of 
their holistic approach, they provided information on a 
remarkably wide variety of topics, and they covered a 
huge geographic area. When the early period came to 
an end, the central Canadian Arctic was the only area 
that remained to be surveyed ethnographically. 

I recall being very frustrated during my student days 
by the body of literature these ethnographers pro- 
duced. When I reviewed that literature recently, I could 
see why. Here they were, as close to the cutting edge 
of European contact as any ethnographers would ever 
be, yet they hardly had anything to say about the so- 
cial dynamics of traditional Eskimo societies. A great 
deal can be determined about Eskimo life based on 
the information these ethnographers acquired, but there 
is no way to know, relying solely on the evidence con- 
tained within the documents they produced, how an 
Eskimo village or society really worked. 

3 8 

The good news is that they left a lot for the rest of us 
to do. For example, Franz Boas's work on Baffin Island 
in 1 883-84 was outstanding. However, it was not until 
more than a century later, when Marc Steven-son 
(Stevenson 1 993) wrote his thesis on Cumberland Sound 
Inuit social structure, that it became possible to say, at 
a fairly sophisticated level, how the system probably 
worked when Boas was there, more than a century 

Intermediate Period 

The intermediate period was ushered in by Franz Boas 
(1901, 1907) with the publication of his volume on 
the Eskimos of Baffin Land and Hudson Bay. This two- 
part document was based on notes collected at his 
request by the whaling captains George Comer and 
James Mutch and by the missionary E.J. Peck. This work 
actually began in 1 898, but continued to 1 902. It con- 
tained a large amount of rather miscellaneous informa- 
tion, but it served as a useful complement to his own 
earlier fieldwork. After completing it, Boas turned his 
powerful attention to the Northwest Coast and never 
returned to arctic research. 

The first part of the intermediate period was marked 
by a series of major expeditions. They began with the 
first phase of the Jesup North Pacific Expedition (Fitzhugh 
1 994a; Freed et al. 1 988), and ended with the Sev- 
enth Thule (Rasmussen 1933a, 1933b) and the Dan- 
ish-American Alaska (Birket-Smith 1 953:1 ) expeditions 
in 1933. In-between were the Danish Literary Expedi- 
tion of 1903-04 (Mylius-Erichsen and Moltke 1906); 
the Kamchatka-Aleutian Expedition of 1 909-1 (Jochel- 
son 1912); the Fourth, Fifth (Rasmussen 1926, 1927; 
Rasmussen et al. 1 925), and Sixth (Rasmussen 1 932b) 
Thule expeditions; 7 the Crocker-Land Expedition of 
1913-17 (MacMillan 1918b); the Carnegie Magnetic 
Expedition around the Labrador Peninsula in 1914 
(Hawkes 1916); the Stefansson-Anderson Expedition 
of 1 908-1 2 (Stefansson 1 91 4b); and the Canadian Arc- 
tic Expedition of 1913-18 (Anderson 1915-17; D. 
Jenness 1 91 6; S.Jenness 1 991 ; Stefansson 192 la). The 


ethnographers involved included many who became 
premier practitioners of arctic ethnography: Kaj Birket- 
Smith (e.g., Birket-Smith 1 924, 1 928, 1 929, 1 953); Dia- 
mond Jenness (see below); Knud Rasmussen (1908, 
1929, 1930a, 1930b, 1931, 1932a; Ostermann 1942; 
Ostermann and Holtved 1 952) 8 ; Vilhjalmur Stefansson 
(1913a, 1914b); and William Thalbitzer (1914, 1923, 
1 941 ). Others were Waldemar [Vladimir] Bogoras (1 904- 
1909, 1913); Edward Curtis (1930); Walter Ekblaw 
(1921, 1927, 1928, 1947, 1 948) 9 ; Ernest Hawkes 
(1 91 4, 1 91 6); Waldemar [Vladimir] Jochelson (1 933); 
and Hans Peter Steensby (1910). Therkel Mathiassen, 
known primarily for his archaeological work, also did 
important ethnographic work during the Fifth Thule 
Expedition (Mathiassen 1928). 

After the Great Depression, "expeditions" tended 
to become one- or two-person affairs. They were car- 
ried out by such people as Jean Gabus (1940, 1940- 
41, 1941); Robert Gessain (1935, 1937a, 1937b); J. L. 
Giddings (1 941 , 1956, 1 961); Irmaand John Honigmann 
(Honigmann and Honigmann 1953; J. Honigmann 
1951, 1952); Margaret Lantis (see below); Alexander 
and Dorothea Leighton (Leighton and Leighton 1983); 
Froelich Rainey (see below); N. B. Shnakenburg, 10 and 
Paul Emile Victor (1938, 1939, 1940). 

This work filled in the major geographic gap of the 
central Canadian Arctic and started to fill in some of 
the holes remaining in our knowledge of southwest- 
ern and southern Alaska. In addition, it added a wealth 
of detail to what was already known, and it produced 
for the first time in the Arctic examples of what I con- 
sider to be world-class ethnography. In particular, the 
work of Diamond Jenness and Margaret Lantis can be 
mentioned as being in that category. 

The ethnography of the intermediate period is well 
known. Thus, instead of reviewing it further, I am going 
to offer a few brief opinions on the work of three of 
the individuals who were involved in it. 

The first ethnographer I wish to discuss is Vilhjalmur 
Stefansson 1 1 As Stefansson was fond of noting himself 
(e.g., Stefansson 191 3a: 1 75), when he arrived among 


the Copper Inuit he already spoke Inuktitut with some 
fluency. He was thus in the unique position of being 
able to speak the language of the people he was go- 
ing to study before they had ever even seen a West- 
erner. From that perspective, his ethnographic work 
among the Copper Inuit (e.g., Stefansson 1913a, 
1 91 4b) must be regarded as a disappointment. I would 
say much the same about his work in the Mackenzie 
Delta and northern Alaska (e.g., Stefansson 1 908, 1 909, 
1910, 1912-13, 1914a; also 1913c, 1914b). His re- 
sults, while informative and important, were far below 
what one might expect, given his training and the ex- 
traordinary opportunities he had in both regions. 
Stefansson was too interested in being an explorer 
and an iconoclast (e.g., Stefansson 1921b, 1956), and 
not interested enough in being an ethnographer, to 
put together a systematic ethnographic account of 
an Eskimo population. One subject he did treat with 
insight and attention, however, was Inuit religion. We 
may still read with profit what he had to say on that 
topic (Stefansson 1913b, 1913c, 1953). 

The second person I want to say something about 
is Diamond Jenness. Jenness's work represents the very 
highest standards of ethnographic endeavor. He wrote 
several monographs (Jenness 1922, 1923b, 1924a, 
1 924b, 1 928b, 1 946; Roberts and Jenness 1 925), sev- 
eral articles (e.g., Jenness 1917, 1921, 1923a), and a 
popular book (Jenness 1 928c) on his research among 
the Copper Inuit. His work alone qualified that group 
for inclusion in the Human Relations Area Files from 
the day they were founded. His Life of the Copper Es- 
kimo is a masterpiece, written in an engaging style, 
but crammed full of information on how the Copper 
Inuit system worked. In terms of theoretical sophisti- 
cation, it was the equal of anything that was being 
produced anywhere in the world at that time. 12 

Sometimes I muse over the fact that Jenness did 
his Arctic fieldwork at exactly the same time Bronislaw 
Malinowski (1967) was doing his first research in the 
Trobriand Islands. If Jenness had published books with 
nifty titles, like Malinowski did, 13 and if he had been a 

3 9 

professor at a major university (e.g., the London School 
of Economics) like Malinowski, arctic ethnography 
would have had a much greater impact on world an- 
thropology than it has had. But he stuck to museum 
work at the National Museum of Canada and to mu- 
seum monographs, and few who were not arctic spe- 
cialists knew or cared much about his work. 

The final person from the intermediate period whom 
I want to comment on is Froelich Rainey. Rainey was 
primarily an archaeologist, but he spent nine months in 
1940 doing ethnographic research in Point Hope, 
Alaska. The result was the publication of three articles 
(Rainey 1 940, 1 941 a, 1 941 b) and a very short mono- 
graph (Rainey 1 947). Unfortunately for us, World War II 
directed Rainey's attention elsewhere, and he never 
returned to arctic research. However, I have had the 
privilege of examining all of his field notes. I can tell 
you that during the few months Rainey spent in Point 
Hope, he collected enough material for a major mono- 
graph, one the size and scope of Robert Spencer's 
(1959) volume on Barrow, but perhaps even better 
informed. His published work was just an outline of 
the information he actually had. Some of his notes are 
accessible in the Alaska and Polar Regions Department 
at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. I recommend that 
you take a look at them. If you do, then the potential 
inherent in his work may ultimately be realized. 14 This 
brings me to 1 954. 

Transitional Year 

Clearly, 1 954 was a threshold year in the history of 
arctic ethnography, since that is the year I first went to 
the Arctic. Personal views and jokes aside, the early 
1950s really were a time of major transition in the 
field, because it took until then to get the effects of 
World War II out of the system. With the help of Igor 
Krupnik and James VanStone, I compiled a list of all the 
people who were actively involved in arctic ethnogra- 
phy during that year. The list contains 29 names. We 
probably missed a couple of Danes, but otherwise I 
think the list is pretty complete. 


I will not take the space to present the list, but it is 
appropriate to say a bit about it because the names 
alone say much about the situation existing at the 
time. Important names that were missing include Kaj 
Birket-Smith, Jean Cabus, Diamond Jenness, Therkel 
Mathiassen, Froelich Rainey, VilhjalmurStefansson, and 
William Thalbitzer. They were all still alive, but were 
either no longer interested in the Arctic or else no longer 
doing or writing about ethnographic research. 

Two other important names missing from the list 
are those of James Vanstone and Wendell Oswalt. Both 
began their ethnographic careers, as opposed to their 
archaeological careers, in 1955. 

Important names that are on the list include Rob- 
ert Cessain (1967, 1969, 1979-80; Cessain and Rob- 
ert-Lamblin 1974, 1975); Erik Holtved (1951, 1958, 
1967); John and Irma Honigmann (Honigmann and 
Honigmann 1 965; J. Honigmann 1962, 1965a, 1965b); 
Margaret Lantis (see below);Jean Malaurie (1 956, 1 974; 
Malaurie et al. 1952); Dorothy Jean Ray (1960, 1963, 
1964, 1967, 1971) and Robert Spencer (1 953, 1955, 
1 956, 1 958, 1 959, 1 960, 1 967-68, 1 968, 1 972, 1 984; 
Spencer and Carter 1 954). Just starting his fieldwork in 
Cambell was Charles Campbell Hughes (1 957, 1 958a, 
1958b, 1960, 1966, 1968, 1974). Also included are 
people most of you probably never heard of, such as 
Claude Desgoffe (1955a, 1955b); Marjorie C. Findlay 
(1953, 1955) and Anna Smoliak. In any event, it was 
the beginning of an exciting time in arctic ethnogra- 
phy, and to that I now turn. 

Recent Period 

During the early and intermediate periods of arctic 
ethnography, the number of researchers who were 
active at any given time rarely exceeded half a 
dozen. The number who were active even during 
periods covering half a century rarely exceeded two 
dozen. During the recent period, the number of re- 
searchers rose by at least an order of magnitude. At 
Laval University in Quebec, there are probably more 
active arctic ethnographers right now (i.e., in 1 995) 


than there were in the entire world in 1 950. World- 
wide, we must now speak in terms of hundreds of 
arctic ethnographers, not dozens. 

The rapid expansion in the number of arctic eth- 
nographers began in the mid- 1 950s. In Greenland, early 
interest was in the social changes attending the island's 
opening to the outside world. Research focused on 
ethnic identity (e.g., H. Kleivan 1969-1970; I. Kleivan 
1 969-1 970; Petersen 1 992), economic development 
(e.g., Christiansen 1 966; 0rvik 1 976), and the develop- 
ment of political institutions (e.g., Benoit and Martens 
1 992; Coldschmidt 1 963; Nooter 1 976). Subsequently, 
attention turned to such topics as the consequences 
of home rule (e.g., Foighel 1 980; Motzfeldt 1 987) and 
land-use planning (Creiffenberg 1 992), although other- 
wise the themes remained about the same (e.g., Brosted 
and Cullov 1 977; Hoyem 1 988; Lynge 1 988; Schechter 
1983). Much of the work had a definite applied orien- 
tation, although some more classic work — mythology 
(e.g., Kleivan 1960; Savard 1966), kinship (e.g., Soby 
1977-1978), and village organization (Nuttall 1992), 
for example — was also carried out. Most of the work 
in Greenland was done by Danish scholars, although 
the French (e.g., Robbe 1 994; Victor and Robert-Lamblin 
1 989, 1 993) maintained a strong presence in eastern 
Greenland, 15 and others have been involved from time 
to time. 16 

In Canada, the expansion of arctic ethnography in 
the 1950s arose out of the sad state of many Cana- 
dian Inuit groups, especially the Caribou Inuit, as re- 
ported by Farley Mowat (1954, 1959) and photo- 
graphed by Richard Harrington (1954). The Canadian 
Department of Northern Affairs and Natural Resources 
(later the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern 
Development) sponsored a number of studies, includ- 
ing several area economic surveys (e.g., Abrahamson 
1964; Anders 1965; Bissett 1967; Meldrum 1975; 
Usher 1 966), as well as investigations of community 
structure (e.g. Dailey and Dailey 1 961 ; Ferguson 1 963; 
Mailhot 1968; VanStone and Oswalt 1959; Willmott 
1 96 1 ) and social problems (e.g., Brody 1 970; Clairmont 


1962; Lubart 1970). Most of the resulting publications 
were produced in limited quantities and were distrib- 
uted to a restricted set of readers; they constitute the 
foundation of Canada's extensive "gray literature" on 
the Inuit. 

As in Greenland, much of the post-1954 work in 
Canada has had an applied orientation. However, there 
also have been more classic studies, such as Balikci's 
(1970) volume on the Netsilik, Damas's (1963) study 
of the Igluligmiut, Guemple's (1966) work in the 
Belcher Islands, Graburn's (1964) and Saladin d'An- 
glure's (1967) separate researches in northern Que- 
bec; David Stevenson's (1972), Marc Stevenson's 
(1993), and George Wenzel's (1981) studies in Baffin 
Island; Ben-Dor's (1 966) research in Labrador; and F. G. 
Vallee's (1967) work in central Keewatin. One impor- 
tant research focus was the Inuit land claims (Brice- 
Bennett 1977; Freeman 1976; Riewe 1992) and the 
foundation on which they were based. Social change 
is an enduring topic (e.g., Condon 1 987; Matthiasson 
1992; McElroy 1973; Wenzel 1991), as is its coun- 
terpart — the maintenance of traditional values and 
lifestyles in a rapidly changing world (e.g., Ames et al. 
1989; Freeman 1992; Freeman and Carbyn 1988). 
Beyond that, recent ethnographic research in Canada 
has been too voluminous and too specialized to at- 
tempt to summarize here. 

In Alaska, ethnography really started moving in the 
1 950s with Spencer's (1 959) monograph on the North 
Slope, and the three famous community studies — 
VanStone's (1962) on Point Hope, Oswalt's (1963) on 
Napaskiak, and Hughes's (1 960) on Gambell. Research 
expanded dramatically during the 1 960s, particularly 
in northwestern Alaska, which was probably the most 
exciting place to be in all of the Arctic at that time. We 
are all familiar with the old joke that, in the 1 930s, the 
average Navajo family consisted of two parents, four 
children, and an anthropologist. Things did not go quite 
that far in northern Alaska, but just about every Inupiaq 
village had one or more resident anthropologists. By 
my count, during the decade of the 1 960s, at least 

A I 

thirty ethnographers did some kind of research in twenty- 
six Inupiaq villages. 17 Several others were working far- 
ther south, but the density of researchers was nowhere 
near as high in southwestern and southcentral Alaska 
as it was in the north. 

One of the interesting things about the work in 
Alaska during the 1960s was that, after Project 
Chariot was over in 1 961 , most researchers worked 
independently of both institutional projects and of one 
another. It was only later, with the Alaska Native Claims 
Settlement Act of 1971 , the state subsistence law, oil 
exploration, and the Alaska National Interest Lands 
Conservation Act, that government-sponsored research 
became important. Since 1970, an enormous amount 
of ethnographic research has been commissioned or 
carried out by the Alaska Department of Fish and Came, 
Division of Subsistence (see 1 994 for references and 
abstracts; also Fall 1 990); the U.S. Bureau of Indian Af- 
fairs 18 ; the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Alaska 
Outer Continental Shelf Office (e.g., Davis 1 979; Ellanna 
1980; Fienup-Riordan 1982; Policy Analysts Ltd. 1980; 
Worl Associates 1 978); the U.S. National Park Service 
(e.g., Anderson et al. 1 977) 19 ; and the U.S. Minerals Man- 
agement Service (e.g., Braund 1 988a; Luton 1 985; U.S. 
Minerals Management Service 1988, 1992; Worl and 
Smythe 1986). The volume of the "gray literature" re- 
sulting from all this work even exceeds that produced 
earlier in Canada. 

Government-sponsored research is by no means 
the only type of ethnographic work done in Alaska 
since 1970, however. Individuals pursuing their own 
research interests have produced dozens of studies. 
These range from comprehensive descriptions of na- 
tive life (e.g., Cubser 1 965) to studies of social change 
(e.g., Chance 1 990; Milan 1 964; VanStone 1 967), kin- 
ship (e.g., Burch 1975; Fienup-Riordan 1983), folklore 
(e.g., Hall 1 975), gender(e.g., Chance 1 988;Jolles 1 991 ), 
ritual (e.g., Fienup-Riordan 1 994), inter-ethnic relations 
(McNabb 1985), and the construction of skin boats 
(Braund 1 988b), to list just a few of the topics that 
have been investigated. 

4 2 

Ethnographic research in the Soviet Union took longer 
to get started after World War II than it did in the rest of 
the Arctic. It was not until the 1 970s that important re- 
search was underway, especially in the areas of social 
organization and ecology. Important names to mention 
here are Chlenov (e.g., Chlenov 1973, 1983) and 
Krupnik (e.g., Krupnik 1981, 1993), but several oth- 
ers, including a number of linguists, have been involved 
as well. 

Most of the ethnography that has been done dur- 
ing the recent period has been more specialized than 
that carried out earlier. Instead of attempting to de- 
scribe all aspects of a society and its setting within a 
single monograph, researchers have focused on the 
kinship system, ecology, suicide, etc. This makes sense 
because most researchers have been working in 
ground that had been plowed, even if not disked and 
harrowed, before they arrived. 

As attendance at the annual meetings of the Alaska 
Anthropological Association and especially at the bi- 
ennial Inuit Studies Conferences attests, arctic ethnog- 
raphy in 1 995 is a dynamic field, more so than at any 
previous time. Another, less positive indicator that arc- 
tic ethnography is coming of age is the growing tide 
of petty jealousy, personal vendettas, and peer review 
sabotage that has developed over the past few years. 
If this trend continues, it will not be long before we 
achieve the stature acquired long ago by the Oceanists 
and Africanists. 

A third indicator of the progress we have made is 
the volume of material one must examine when writ- 
ing even a relatively simple article. Now it takes me 
nine- or ten-times as long to research a twenty-five- 
page paper as it did when I was a graduate student. 
For a while I thought it was because I was getting 
senile. Then I realized that, over the past thirty years or 
so, the quantity of available information has increased 
by an order of magnitude. 

The work that is going on today ranges from 
pathetic to outstanding. I am pleased to note, how- 
ever, that the mode is definitely skewed in a positive 


direction. In my terms, this means that the emphasis 
is increasingly on process rather than form, and that 
several people are doing structural-functional analysis 
even though they do not know it. There may be hope 
after all. 

Before leaving my discussion of the recent period, 
I wish to focus attention briefly on the work of two 
individuals. The first is Margaret Lantis. It is presumptu- 
ous of me to attempt to assess Lantis's work in a few 
sentences. It spans more than a half a century and 
covers an awesome variety of subjects. Not to single 
it out for attention, however, is unthinkable. Lantis's 
(1 946) monograph on the social culture of the Nunivak 
Eskimo was holistic, in the old tradition of arctic eth- 
nography, but the level of analysis was more sophisti- 
cated than that of most of her predecessors. To her 
monograph she subsequently added more specialized 
studies of various aspects of Nunivak life (e.g., Lantis 
1 953, 1 960), analyses of the Aleut social system (Lantis 
1970) and Kodiak Island mythology (Lantis 1938b), 
comparative studies on a wide variety of subjects and 
regions (e.g., Lantis 1 938a, 1 947, 1 950, 1 959a, 1 959b, 
1990), and studies of health issues (Lantis 1967, 1981) 
and social change (e.g., Lantis 1 952, 1 966, 1 972, 1 973), 
among other topics. Altogether, Lantis arguably has 
written on a greater variety of research topics than 
any other Arctic ethnographer. 

The second person I want to single out for atten- 
tion is David Damas. Damas was trained by Fred Eggan 
at the University of Chicago and was profoundly influ- 
enced by him. Initially, this gave his work something of 
a formalist quality and a somewhat dated appearance. 
But these impressions are misleading. Damas, like 
Eggan, was too interested in how systems operate 
to limit himself to formal analysis. His work on Iglu- 
lingmiut kinship and local groupings (Damas 1 963, 
1 964) was the most sophisticated analysis of Eskimo 
kinship ever written up to that time. Subsequently, 
Damas expanded his geographic range to include the 
Netsilik and the Copper Inuit (Damas 1 972b), in addi- 
tion to the Iglulingmiut, and many of his publications 

(e.g., Damas 1 966, 1 968, 1 969a, 1 969b, 1 971 , 1 972a, 
1972b, 1975a, 1975b, 1975c, 1988) involved com- 
parisons of the three. His interests broadened to in- 
clude ecology, social change, and a variety of other 
subjects. Damas eschewed theoretical fads and fancy 
titles, but he kept his eye on fundamental issues that 
will continue to be important far into the future. 


Where does all of this leave us? What impact has arctic 
ethnography had on sociocultural anthropology in 
general? The answer is, precious little. Among those 
few anthropologists who work in other lands who are 
aware we even exist, we are a laughingstock. The only 
Arctic ethnographer whose work is regularly cited 
outside our own narrow circles is Jean Briggs (e.g., Briggs 
1970, 1979, 1982, 1991). Briggs is justifiably recog- 
nized for her brilliant work on family relationships, so- 
cialization, and emotional expression. While others have 
published important findings as well, their work has 
been ignored. 

When pondering our minimal impact on others, it is 
useful to pause and consider areas where contribu- 
tions might be expected of us. Obviously, we can con- 
tribute little or nothing to debates about descent sys- 
tems, to the understanding of peasant revolts, or to 
the analysis of agrarian economies. And those are im- 
portant subjects. There are then, obviously, some in- 
herent limitations on the kinds of subjects we can study, 
but that problem exists everywhere. 

A much more serious charge is that Arctic ethnog- 
raphers have been "bypassed by contemporaneous 
theoretical developments" (Riches 1990:73). Given the 
faddism involved in most of the so-called theoretical 
developments of the past thirty years, however, I am 
not so sure that is a bad thing. Every few years or so 
someone has come up with a clever idea, and every- 
one else has jumped on the bandwagon. Then, after a 
brief flurry of research and publication on that topic, 
someone has found a flaw in the idea, the political 
climate has changed, or everyone has gotten bored 



2.5/ Lawrence Sage ofKivalina after a productive day 

with it, and that fad has been abandoned in favor of 
another one. For some reason, most Arctic ethnogra- 
phers have not been trendy; they have pretty much 
stuck to fundamentals. If that is what is involved in 
being bypassed by contemporary theoretical devel- 
opments, then I say, good for us. 

But there are few truly general areas of theoretical 
significance where we cannot say something of im- 
portance. Actually, there are few areas where we have 
not said something of importance. But either we have 
failed to address the general issues explicitly in our 
publications, or we have published in regional rather 
than in national or international journals. Most of the 
time we have done both. As a result, few outside of 
arctic ethnography even see, never mind read, what 
we have written. It is pretty difficult to make an im- 
pact under those conditions. 

There are two areas in particular where Arctic 
ethnographers have an enormous amount to contrib- 
ute to world anthropology: social change and the 
structure of small-scale societies. I will comment briefly 
on each. 

>f seal hunting in June, 1964 

The subject of social change is all-encompassing, 
since every aspect of a social system can and does 
change over time. But few peoples in the world have 
experienced such profound changes, even in world 
history, as the peoples we study. Many of them are 
hurting as a result. Much of the work done in the 
Arctic over the past twenty-five years has, in fact, 
dealt with change. But most of it has been oriented 
to case studies rather than to the search for general 
principles. Until we devote more serious attention to 
general principles, our work will have little impact on 
research done elsewhere. 

Most studies of social change, of course, have im- 
plications for applied anthropology. Indeed, there has 
been considerable progress in this area in the Arctic. I 
was pleased a few years ago to see the work of sev- 
eral of our Alaskan colleagues featured in an issue of 
Practicing Anthropology (Feldman and Langdon 1 982); 
and the work of others (e.g., Kruse 1991; McNabb 
1 993) has appeared in Human Organization. That is a 
good start, but much more needs to be done. Make 
no mistake about it: the future of arctic ethnography 


lies in this area, not in more traditional forms of ethno- 
graphic research. 

The second area where arctic ethnography has an 
enormous amount to contribute to world anthropol- 
ogy is in the understanding of small-scale societies, 
particularly hunter-gatherer societies (fig. 2.5). Unfortu- 
nately, most of our contributions here have been made 
already. This is because it is almost impossible now to 
get information on Arctic peoples as they were before 
contact, or during the early stages of contact, through 
ethnographic research. The knowledge simply has been 
lost. I have collected enough field data over the last 
thirty-five years to keep me going for the rest of my 
professional career. Newcomers, however, are much 
more out of luck. Only in a few areas, such as south- 
western Alaska, where the oral tradition is still very 
strong, can new information still be acquired by means 
of ethnographic research techniques. From now on, it 
will be largely up to ethnohistorians and (heaven help 
us!) archaeologists to provide us with new information 
on hunter-gatherer societies. 

Before concluding, I want to note that the field of 
hunter-gatherer studies is rapidly becoming polarized. 
On the one hand are the students of simple hunter- 
gatherers, such as the Basarwa, the Australian Aborigi- 
nes, and the Hadza. On the other are the students of 
complex hunter-gatherers, such as the Tlingit, the 
Kwakwaka'wakw, and the Calusa. Simple and com- 
plex hunter-gatherers are so different from one another 
that the individuals who study peoples at one extreme 
have almost nothing to say to those who work at the 
other. The international conferences on hunter-gath- 
erer societies — the so-called CHACS series (Burch 
1994:446) — have been dominated by students of 
simple hunter-gatherers. As a result, students of com- 
plex hunter-gatherers have begun to have separate 
conferences of their own (e.g., Price and Brown 1985). 

But, if one starts with the East Greenlandic and 
Polar Inuit and works progressively westward across 
the top of the continent, and then moves counter- 
clockwise around Alaska to the Aleutians and Kodiak 


Island, one finds that the gap between the simplest 
and the most complex hunter-gatherer societies in the 
ethnographic record is a continuum, not a dichotomy. 
The people who study the societies at the extremes 
of hunter-gatherer variation are evidently too ignorant 
to realize this fact, which is why others have ignored 
our work. But it must also be said that we have been 
too reluctant to bring it to their attention. It is time to 
correct this deficiency. 


1. This chapter was originally presented as a 
keynote address at the 22nd Annual Meeting of 
the Alaska Anthropological Association on March 
24, 1995. 

2. See also Allen (1 962) and MacMillan (1 948). 

3. Here I was doubly fortunate because the 
mission, school, and store at Hebron were all per- 
manently closed during the summer of 1959, 
which led to a mass southward migration of the 
native population. 

4. The results of the Project Chariot studies 
were published in a substantial volume edited by 
Wilimovsky and Wolfe (1 966). An excellent history 
of Project Chariot was recently written by O'Neill 

5. At this point Binford had not yet begun his 
ethnographic work in Anaktuvuk Pass, Alaska (see, 
e.g., Binford 1976, 1978a, 1978b, 1980; Binford 
and Chasko 1976). 

6. I have never read or heard of a clear dis- 
tinction being made between social and cultural 
anthropology, which is probably why the com- 
pound term sociocultural appears so often. It seems 
to me that those interested primarily in social 
forms usefully could be called cultural anthropolo- 
gists, while those interested in social process 
could be called social anthropologists. 

7. The First, Second, and Third Thule expedi- 
tions did not involve ethnographic work. The 
fourth one did, but I have been unable to find a 
report devoted to it. 

8. The work of Knud Rasmussen has been re- 
viewed many times, most recently in Kleivan and 
Burch (1 988). 

9. It is appropriate to provide a bit of per- 
spective here. Ekblaw did his research as a mem- 
ber of the Crocker-Land Expedition of 1913-17, 

4 5 

which was led by Donald B. MacMillan. My own 
first trip to the Arctic took place forty years later, 
also under MacMillan's leadership. 

1 0. Shnakenburg's material was not published, 
apparently because it was suppressed by the 
Soviet regime. It did, however, serve as the basis 
of Menovshchikov's (1 964) article on the Eskimo. 
According to Lydia Black (personal communica- 
tion 1995), it is on file in the Kunstkamera at the 
Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography in St. 
Petersburg, Russia. 

1 1. Stefansson's life and work were reviewed 
in a special issue of Polar Notes published in 1 962. 
Also see Diubaldo (1 978). 

12. See Jenness 1918 and 1929a. Jenness 
(1957) also made significant contributions to the 
ethnography of northern Alaska. 

13. For example, Malinowski's Argonauts of 
the Western Pacific (1 922), Sex and Repression in 
Savage Society ( \ 92 7), and Coral Gardens and their 
Magic (1 935). 

1 4. As far as I know, Lowenstein (1 992, 1 993) 

and I (Burch 1981) have been the only ones to 
take advantage of this resource. 

15. For French research prior to 1975, see 
Perrot and Robert-Lamblin (1975). 

16. The papers in a special issue of Arctic A n- 
thropology published in 1 986 include a represen- 
tative sample of topics of recent interest in eth- 
nographic research in Greenland. 

1 7. The Inupiat (pi.) are the Inuit-speaking 
peoples of northwestern Alaska (Woodbury 1 984). 
In the 1960s, their territory extended from 
Unalakleet on the south to Barter Island on the 
northeast, and included Little Diomede and King 
Islands in the Bering Strait. 

1 8. Most of the Bureau of Indian Affairs work 
has not been published, but can be tracked down. 

1 9. In the 1 970s and 1 980s, most of the an- 
thropological research sponsored by the National 
Park Service was archaeological in nature and was 
carried out through the Anthropology and His- 
toric Preservation Cooperative Park Studies Unit, 
University of Alaska Fairbanks. 


j^Jmer ["jarp's (Contribution to £>ush 


Despite the fact that about 6 million square kilometers 
of Canada are currently covered by bush vegetation 
and another 5 million by tundra, the latter region has 
attracted far more archaeological attention. By the term 
"bush," I mean the Boreal Forest and Lichen Woodland 
vegetation provinces; these areas are generally equated 
with "bush" archaeology. The Tundra vegetation prov- 
ince, on the other hand, is usually identified with "arc- 
tic" archaeology. The geographical distributions of these 
three vegetation provinces, of course, have fluctuated 
through time (McAndrews et al. 1 987; Ritchie 1 987). 

It is well known to bush archaeologists that arctic 
archaeologists will recoil to the north at the very sight 
of a scraggy outlier of black spruce trees. Bush archae- 
ologists have a somewhat similar aversion to an arctic 
landscape of limestone shingle beaches, boulder fields 
regurgitated by glaciers, and scoured outcrops, all of 
which are sometimes covered by a diminutive vegeta- 
tion that includes arctic giants like ground willow and 
towering, 5- to 6-inch-tall woolly louseworts (Pedicularis 
lanaia). Given these circumstances, it is not surprising 
that, even though they are neighbors, arctic archaeol- 
ogy and bush archaeology, for the most part, have 
been treated as distinct and unrelated entities. As with 
all generalizations, however, there are exceptions and, 
in this instance, Elmer Harp is most definitely an excep- 
tion. In fact, it would be an exercise in futility to at- 
tempt to classify Elmer Harp as either an arctic or a 
bush archaeologist because, unlike most northern re- 
searchers, he has kept his feet firmly planted in both 

■ 1 


In the spring of 1 960, as the neophyte Ontario Ar- 
chaeologist with the National Museum of Canada, I 
drove to New Haven in the company of Diamond 
Jenness, Scotty MacNeish, Larry Oschinsky, and Bill Tay- 
lor to attend the 25th Annual Meeting of the Society 
for American Archaeology at Yale University. During 
the meetings I met many eminent archaeologists. In- 
cluded in their numbers were Elmer Harp, Fred Johnson, 
and Doug Byers, who collectively left me with the im- 
pression that the senior archaeologists from New En- 
gland were not only outstanding scholars but also 
considerate gentlemen who provided considerable 
encouragement to a young archaeologist just learn- 
ing the trade. This first impression was only enhanced 
with the passage of time. Having already made field 
plans for the first of a number of National Museum of 
Canada archaeological surveys in the Canadian Shield, 
I was naturally most interested in a symposium at the 
meetings that was organized byjack Campbell (1 962). 
The symposium addressed the question of archaeo- 
logical relationships between the Arctic and the more 
southerly regions. Paradoxically, this symposium was, 
and still is, one of the few concerted attempts to 

4 7 

relate arctic archaeological evidence to developments 
in the south. Among the presentations was a paper by 
Elmer Harp (1 962) on the culture history of the Central 
Barren Grounds, which was to have major implications 
for bush archaeology in the future. 

A distinctive feature of all of Elmer Harp's northern 
research is its concentration in regions characterized 
by past human occupations that involved a number of 
different archaeological cultures. Some might suggest 
that this selection of field research areas, which pro- 
vided exceptional opportunities for studying such im- 
portant matters as cultural replacement and interac- 
tion, was a matter of pure luck, but I believe that it 
was more likely the product of a perceptive scholar 
who founded his research strategy upon broadly based 
anthropological considerations. This approach included 
a strong sense of the necessity of viewing past cul- 
tures in relation to their environments and of trying to 
determine how they adapted to changing environments. 
His work represented the first concentrated archaeo- 
logical reconnaissances in a number of regions. While 
he carried out relatively little excavation, his initial find- 
ings and interpretations pointed the way for subse- 
quent northern archaeologists. 

In this chapter, I briefly outline those aspects of 
Harp's research that had a significant impact on my 
own research, with its bush rather than arctic orienta- 
tion. Because of the vast areas involved, ranging from 
just east of Great Bear Lake in the Mackenzie District 
of the Northwest Territories to the Barren Grounds of 
Keewatin District (now mainly part of Nunavut, see fig. 
3.1), and then to the east coast of Hudson Bay and 
southern Labrador, and finally to the Island of New- 
foundland, I will arrange my comments culturally and 
chronologically rather than by geography. 

Northern Piano Culture 

Following the description of archaeological specimens 
recovered by the Moffatt canoe party (Harp 1959), 
Harp conducted an archaeological survey along the 
Thelon River (Harp 1 96 1 ), which included a visit to the 

important Northern Piano Grant Lake site north of 
Dubawnt Lake discovered by the Moffatt party. This 
work provided him with insights relating to the first 
peoples to penetrate the Barren Grounds. In the con- 
clusion of his Thelon River report, Harp noted that the 
Thelon River assemblage, which would eventually be 
classified as Shield Archaic, had probably evolved from 
the preceding Northern Piano culture (Harp 1961:63). 

Harp's interpretation of Shield culture origins was 
subsequently supported by discoveries in the south 
(Wright 1 972b:69-73). My excavations at Grant Lake 
(Wright 1 976), which were largely stimulated by Harp's 
site description and collections as well as by an inter- 
est in trying to demonstrate technological continuity 
from Northern Piano to Early Shield culture (Wright 1 976), 
focused on a Northern Piano culture dwelling that Harp 
had recorded at Schultz Lake on the Thelon River (Harp 
1 961 :1 8-1 9). The Schultz Lake site appeared on tech- 
nological grounds to be late in the Northern Piano cul- 
ture development and thus became an obvious place 
for trying to establish continuities from Northern Piano 
to Early Shield technologies. Because no suitable Early 
Shield culture assemblages were available in the re- 
gion for comparative purposes, however, it was not 
possible to test this idea. But other evidence did add 
support to the hypothesis (Wright 1976:91-93) and 
subsequent work at the 8000 B.P. Sinnock site in south- 
eastern Manitoba (Buchner 1 981 , 1 984) produced evi- 
dence that further increased the likelihood that Harp's 
original hypothesis was valid. Indeed, in a recent syn- 
thesis of early subarctic and arctic cultures, Harp (1 983) 
saw sufficient continuities to classify what has been 
referred to here as Northern Piano culture as Shield 
Archaic. At a time when a Piano culture origin for the 
Shield Archaic was first being considered, a careful 
examination of the literature failed to locate a com- 
plete description or quantification of a Piano culture 
component in North America, other than those for the 
Grant Lake and Schultz Lake Piano sites (Harp 1961). 
Elmer Harp obviously adhered to the all-too-often-ig- 
nored tenet in archaeological reporting that dictates 

4 8 


3. 1/ Barren Ground sites 

Kamut Lake is the only site on the edge 

of the present tree line, but ail the sites were occasionally within seasonal 
commuting range of the forest as it fluctuated through time. 

that artifacts should be described in sufficient de- 
tail to allow future archaeologists to compare such 
data with newly acquired evidence and thus advance 
our understanding of past people. It should also be 
noted that Elmer Harp's admirable sketches of sites 
and local topography (Harp 1961 :fig. 9b) left no con- 
fusion about a site's location in the minds of subse- 
quent field workers. 

Maritime Culture 

Harp's early work in the Strait of Belle Isle region of the 
north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Labrador and 
Quebec and on the Island of Newfoundland (Harp 1 951 , 
1964a, 1964b; Harp and Hughes 1968) revealed the 
presence of an important maritime-adapted culture that 
eventually would be classified as the Maritime Archaic 
(Tuck 1 976a). Radiocarbon dates of more than 7,000 
years 1 for some of the materials, which at the time 
were attributed to the Boreal Archaic with correspon- 
dences to the Laurentian Archaic of the Upper St. 

Lawrence River and Lower Great Lakes, 
attracted considerable attention and 
stimulated a number of major research 
projects along the Labrador coast and 
on the Island of Newfoundland 
(Fitzhugh 1972b; McGhee and Tuck 
1 975; Tuck 1 976a). At the same time, 
researchers working along the Quebec 
portion of the north shore of the Gulf 
of St. Lawrence encountered similar re- 
mains (Levesque 1980). All of this ar- 
chaeological activity in the late 1 960s 
and early 1 970s led to an increasing 
number of research programs and even- 
tually resulted in providing the region 
with one of the best-described ar- 
chaeological sequences in northeast- 
ern North America. Among the archaeo- 
logical cultures identified, in addition 
to the Maritime culture, were the Shield, 
Paleoeskimo, Inuit, and Montagnais/ 
Beothuk cultures. Related research extended to the 
interior of Quebec, throughout the Gulf of St. Lawrence, 
the Maritime provinces, northern Maine, and well up 
the St. Lawrence River. When Elmer Harp primed the 
pump, he initiated a massive archaeological artesian 

Shield Culture 

The concept of a Shield culture that was specifically 
adapted to the special requirements of the Boreal For- 
est and Lichen Woodland vegetation provinces of the 
Canadian Shield (Wright 1 972a) owes much to the late 
Frank Ridley's work in northern Ontario and to Elmer 
Harp's work in the Barren Grounds of Keewatin District 
and along the southern coast of Labrador and Que- 
bec. The evidence from the Barren Grounds was par- 
ticularly critical to the concept's formulation. Harp's 
(1 961 ) Thelon River Complex C materials largely equate 
with what I would now call Middle Shield culture (4000- 
1 000 B.C.). The Aberdeen site (AL-7), situated along a 


bluff on the south bank of the Thelon River, was of 
particular interest, and I decided to take Harp's advice 
that "it would repay a planned excavation" (Harp 
1961:21). This certainly proved to be the case. Al- 
though the cultural debris from multiple seasonal oc- 
cupations of the site by Northern Piano, Middle Shield, 
Early Paleoeskimo, and Late Northwest Interior (Taltheilei 
complex) peoples, 2 as well as Inuit caribou hunters, 
were hopelessly mixed in the thin, cryoturbated de- 
posits, the discovery of two Middle Shield culture house 
structures provided a rare instance of clear compo- 
nent isolation (Wright 1972a). These dwellings not 
only offered the first glimpse of an important facet 
of Middle Shield culture settlement patterning but, 
because the two structures belonged to different 
periods based on their artifactual contents, they also 
allowed a seriation of the tool assemblages that 
provided insights into artifact style and tool cat- 
egory frequency trends for the Middle Shield cul- 
ture in the Barren Grounds. These trends were found 
to be similar to those recorded to the southeast in 
the bush region. 

A supplementary result of the large-scale excava- 
tions at the Northern Piano culture site at Grant Lake 
(Wright 1 976) was the discovery of the nearby Migod 
site, situated at the first rapid in the Dubawnt River 
immediately north of the Grant Lake site. This impor- 
tant stratified site contained occupation levels that 
represented the entire span of human settlement in 
the Barren Grounds. Particularly well represented were 
Shield culture occupations whose sequential assem- 
blages and large numbers of radiocarbon dates have 
illuminated Shield culture development as well as later 
developments in the area (Gordon 1 976). 

Harp's (1964b) discovery of a scatter of Middle 
Shield culture side-notched projectile points from the 
north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence in the Strait of 
Belle Isle region heralded the formulation of what even- 
tually would be referred to locally as the Brinex and 
Charles complexes in Hamilton Inlet in southern Labra- 
dor (Fitzhugh 1972b) and the Saunders complex on 

the central Labrador coast (Nagle 1978). Related 
materials have been described from sites in the inte- 
rior of Quebec (Chevrier 1 986) and further up the Gulf 
of St. Lawrence (Chapdelaine 1984). On the central 
Labrador coast, the Saunders complex was attributed 
to a Shield culture intrusion around 2000 B.C. (Nagle 
1 978: 143-1 44). This population intrusion correlated 
with the southward push of Early Paleoeskimos 
down the Labrador coast and the disappearance 
of the previous Middle Maritime culture inhabit- 
ants — cultural events that occurred during a time of 
climatic change. It now appears that the small sample 
of materials recovered by Harp from the Blanc Sablon 
region of the Strait of Belle Isle had a major impact on 
the development of the culture history of Labrador, as 
well as of the interior and north shore of the Gulf of St. 
Lawrence in Quebec. 

Northwest Interior and Proto-Northern 
Athapascan Cultures 

Archaeological materials that Harp obtained during 
the late 1950s from Kamut Lake and Dismal Lake, 
located between Coronation Gulf on the northeast 
and Great Bear Lake on the southwest (Harp 1 958), 
and from the Thelon River region of Keewatin District 
(Harp 1961) can now be placed within a relatively ac- 
curate culture historical framework (Gordon 1 981 ; Noble 
1971). Despite the limited comparative information 
available during his early surveys, Harp was able to 
identify their similarities, such as those reflected by the 
presence of transverse and corner burins, to the West- 
ern Arctic (Harp 1958:238-239). His interpretive per- 
ceptiveness — at a time when little comparative evi- 
dence was available — is underscored by the fact that, 
of the six major conclusions that stem from his Thelon 
River research (Harp 1961 :70), only one has not been 
substantially upheld by more recent work in the Barren 
Grounds, and that one relates to chronological esti- 
mates in lieu of radiocarbon dates and a reliance on 
apparently erroneous geological estimates of the time 
of deglaciation. 


While I am tempted to include Paleoeskimo in the 
list of cultures whose formulations and developments 
have substantially benefitted from Harp's contributions, 
I will leave such an assessment to the arctic archae- 
ologists contributing to this volume. I would only note 
that Elmer Harp encountered evidence of Paleoeskimo 
cultures in all of the northern regions in which he worked 
and his data have rendered considerable assistance to 
the understanding of Paleoeskimo penetrations into 
northern Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Labrador, New- 
foundland, and the north shore of the Gulf of St. 

It is impossible in a brief note to acknowledge 
properly the debt that current bush and arctic archae- 
ologists owe to Elmer Harp. In every geographic re- 
gion in which he worked, he acted as a catalyst for 
subsequent investigators. His ability to effectively 
combine accurately described data and insightful 
interpretations has been responsible for eliciting such 
a following. While I cannot offhand recall the source, I 
do remember a number of years ago reading a critique 
of the "New Archeology" in which it was lamented 
that many of its advocates seemed to be unable to 

stand upon the shoulders of their predecessors with- 
out relieving themselves. In this respect, I am clearly 
not a New Archaeologist, but I deem it to be both a 
privilege and an honor to have had the opportunity to 
stand upon the sturdy shoulders of an outstanding 
scholar like Elmer Harp. 


1 . All dates given as either years ago or B.C./ 
A.D. have been calibrated for fluctuations in at- 
mospheric radiocarbon 1 4 (Klein et al. 1 982). If a 
date exceeded the 7240 B.P. maximum of the 
dendrochronology-based calibration tables, it is 
reported in radiocarbon years B.P. 

2. Some of the unfamiliar archaeological cul- 
tural terms and procedures that appear here, such 
as the designations Late Northwest Interior cul- 
ture, the frequent dropping of the qualifier Archaic, 
and categorizing lengthy cultural traditions (e.g., 
Early Shield, Middle Shield), are all part of a modi- 
fied archaeological culture nomenclature. Such 
changes were required during my writing of A His- 
tory of the Native People of Canada (Wright 1 995, 
1 999, n.d.). Needless to say, the northeastern and 
northern aspects of this national archaeological 
synthesis have substantially benefitted from Harp's 
published contributions. 


/\ \~\lstortj of £)ever!t) flange /\rchaeoiogica! 


Each spring the caribou of the Beverly population mi- 
grate from their winter range in the forests of northern 
Saskatchewan, moving northeast over frozen lakes and 
rivers toward their calving grounds next to Beverly 
Lake in the District of Keewatin, Northwest Territories. 
The cows drop their calves in high, dry areas, free of 
predators and insects, before beginning their long mi- 
gration back to the forests in early July. They join the 
bulls, forming one great herd of thousands of animals 
that crosses the Barrenlands between the Thelon and 
Dubawnt Rivers. Their numbers are so large that the 
landscape seems to move with them. At water cross- 
ings, they fill the rivers and lakes from shore to shore 
before dispersing onto the tundra over trails worn deep 
over thousands of years. They have cut the same swath 
across the Barrenlands twice a year, shifting their route 
only when climate and overkilling have interfered. 

Today, the Inuit hunt the caribou at the northern 
end of their range, near the calving grounds. The 
Chipewyan Indians hunt them in the forest at the south- 
ern end. In between, a large expanse of land lies unin- 
habited by hunters at any time of the year. The center 
of the Beverly Range north of Lake Athabasca and 
east of Artillery Lake lies in a large area draining to- 
ward the northeast to Hudson Bay by the Thelon and 
Dubawnt Rivers (figs. 4.1 , 2). The exposed upper ridges 
of the Barrenlands are mostly sandstone and granite 
of the Canadian Shield. The land is laced with eskers— 
sand and gravel streambeds from rivers that ran be- 
neath the Laurentide ice sheet 1 0,000 years ago. In 
places are wind-blown sand deposits and dune fields 

that are remnants of glacial lakes. When the caribou 
are not pressing onward, harassed by insects, they are 
grazing on the nutritious new sprouts, buds, and flow- 
ers found in the large tundra areas covered with sph- 
agnum, herbaceous plants, shrubs, sedges, and grasses. 

Since the retreat of the glaciers, the region has 
changed little except for several alternating warm and 
cool periods. Just as the caribou have responded to a 
moving tree line as the forest and tundra expanded 
and contracted, so too did the ancient hunters who 
followed them. The geographic names reflect this hunt- 
ing history. Before exploration and the fur trade, the 
lakes and rivers of the Beverly Range had either Inuit or 
Chipewyan names, and sometimes both. While Thelon 
comes from the Chipewyan word for "whitefish," 
Hanbury (1 904:36) reported it as "Ark-i-hnik" ("wooded 
river") of the Inuit, but Aq-i-liniq is actually the downriver 
area near Beverly Lake where the Inuit gathered drift- 
wood. Dubawnt in Chipewyan means "ice shore." 
Thlewey-cho-dezeth, or "great fish river," might not have 
been renamed the Back had it been retained by cari- 
bou hunters. Today, the geographic names in the Beverly 
Range are a mosaic of Chipewyan, Cree, French, and 
English, reflecting a more modern history and obscur- 
ing the more ancient one. 

5 3 

European traders in North 
America were quick to exploit the 
fur reserves of the northern boreal 
forest but slow to explore the adja- 
cent tundra. They encouraged Indi- 
ans to exchange their traditional for- 
est/tundra hunting cycle for the trap- 
ping of small animals in the forest. 
The Indians delivered furs to forest 
trading posts at locations conve- 
nient to the traders. Samuel Hearne 
(1795:52), who recognized the 
Chipewyan's dependence on the 
caribou, noted that they "always 
follow the lead of the deer [and] are 
seldom exposed to the griping hand 
of famine so frequently felt by those 
who are called the annual traders." 

When the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany learned that native copper 
was available on the Coppermine 
River, it sent Hearne across the 
Beverly Range to find it. While his 
odyssey, which lasted from 1 769 
to 1 772, failed to bring profit to the 
company, his report provided the 
earliest extensive documentation of traditional 
Chipewyan life. One of his first camps was at Crow Hill, 
an esker knob visible for many miles at Grant Lake on 
the Dubawnt River (Hearne 1 795:map). 

Expanded Understanding 

Our understanding of the ancient peoples who hunted 
Beverly caribou developed slowly, primarily because 
of the difficulty of traveling up the turbulent water- 
ways that ran from its heartland. Even the mass move- 
ments of different cultures went unnoticed for many 
years. Sometime between Hearne's visit in 1771 and 
Tyrrell's visit in 1 893, the Chipewyan abandoned Crow 
Hill and the Barrenlands for the southern fur trade (Tyrrell 
1 898). In 1 954, the geologist John Fyles found ancient 


MacNEISH 1950 

HARP 1958 


IRVING 1959,64 

1 (.ii i 

WRIGHT 1969 


4. // Investigations into the prehistory of the Beverly Range area from 
/ 950 to 1 969 are shown above. The hatch marks with arrows indicate the 
path of the caribou herd migration. 

Indian tools at Crow Hill, but it was not until 1 974, 
when I excavated, dated, and compared Chipewyan 
and Inuit tools, that the change at Crow Hill could be 
dated to about 1815 (Gordon 1 976). Before that time, 
what is now part of Nunavut was Chipewyan. 

Later explorers and adventurers, such as War- 
burton Pike (1 892), David Hanbury (1 904), and Ernest 
Seton (1 91 1 ), also failed to recognize the tools of the 
ancient Indians and their exploitation of the Beverly 
Range. Although they commented on this uninhab- 
ited wilderness, they did not realize the extent to which 
it had once been a vital part of the early Chipewyan 
life cycle. 

Northern-oriented archaeologists gradually became 
curious about who might have lived in this wilderness 


and how they lived (table 4. 1 , fig. 4. 1 ). But access into 
the region remained difficult, with the canoe serving 
as the main conveyance for many years. Richard 
MacNeish (1951:31) traveled by canoe while collect- 
ing material near Artillery and Athabasca Lakes, which 
helped him define the Artillery, Taltheilei, Lockhart, and 
Whitefish complexes. On a canoe trip in 1 955, Arthur 
Moffatt found nine sites at Chipman River and at Lakes 
Selwyn, Boyd, Barlow, and Carey on the Dubawnt River 
(Harp 1 959). Sadly, after upsetting his canoe on a rock 
in mid-river on a cold day in the middle of September, 
Moffatt died of exposure onshore (Crinnell 1996). His 
companions retrieved his collection of artifacts, and 
these were later studied by Elmer Harp. 

After visiting Grant Lake in 1958 and combining 
this collection with others from Baker, Beverly, and 
Aberdeen Lakes, Harp defined two Indian Archaic 
phases — an Early Archaic and a Late Archaic — which 
were separated in time by the Pre-Dorset. He also noted 
the presence of a Thule culture precursor to the Cari- 
bou Inuit. Later, I was able to divide Harp's early Ar- 
chaic into Piano and Shield Archaic and his late Ar- 
chaic into several Taltheilei phases (Gordon 1 975:92- 
94, 1996). William Irving's (1968:40-47) subsequent 
work at Grant and Dubawnt Lakes enhanced our un- 
derstanding of the Barrenland Pre-Dorset. 

In the early 1 960s, ornithologist Robert Nero found 
a number of Besant, Pelican Lake, and Taltheilei points 

at Lake Athabasca in the Beverly forest. By using Nero's 
information and his own Taltheilei, Pre-Dorset, and Shield 
Archaic tool collections, Wright (1975) was able to 
synthesize the prehistory of Lake Athabasca. Further 
east, Minni's (1 976:1 58) fieldwork at Black Lake yielded 
forty-two surface site and thirteen buried sites. The 
Pre-Dorset endblade she found there marks the south- 
ern limit of the Pre-Dorset culture, and a Piano point 
attests to the 7,000-year-old transition from bison to 
caribou hunting. To the northwest, Noble's (1 971 ) sur- 
vey of Artillery Lake and Pike's Portage in 1 966-1 969, 
although failing to uncover any stratified sites, did ad- 
vance MacNeish's Artillery Lake study by sorting out 
his complexes using Glacial Lake McConnell beach 
ridges, radiocarbon dates, and typology. In the far 
northeast, Wright's (1 972a) excavations of a Shield Ar- 
chaic pithouse at Aberdeen Lake in 1 969 revealed the 
presence of Piano, Pre-Dorset, Inuit, and Taltheilei tools 
on its surface. 

While the central Beverly Range, especially near the 
upper and middle Thelon River, remained remote, the 
stage for archaeological investigation was being set 
(table 4.2, fig. 4.2). After bison were exterminated on 
the Plains, turn-of-the-century trophy hunters began 
looking further north for musk ox. One of these, 
Warburton Pike, helped to simplify canoe travel by 
publishing the Indian portage route from Great Slave 
to Artillery Lakes. During their 1 924-1 925 crossing of 

Table 4. 1/ Each of the researchers below has contributed to a synthesis of the complex prehistory of the Beverly 



Contribution and Change 

MacNeish (1951) 


W. Beverly Range Taltheilei, Whitefish 
Lockhart, and Artillery Complexes 

Harp (1959, 1961) 


Early and Late Archaic, Pre-Dorest, Thule in Middle 
and Lower Thelon; Identified Agate Basin Points 

Irving (1 968) 

1959, 1964 

Pre-Dorset on Dubawnt River 

Wright (1972, 1975, 1976) 

1969, 1973 

Shield Archaic Origin, Dated Agate Basin, Lake 
Athabasca Synthesis 

Gordon (1975, 1976) 


Excavated and Dated 3 Shield Archaic, 2 Pre-Dorset, 
4 Taltheilei Phases; Used 3 Treelines to 
Separatel002 Sites 


Table 4.2/ Beverly surveys and excavations, by area 

Reference Year Survey or Excavation 

Hearne (1 795) 

1 770 

Crow Hill, or Grant Lake Esker 

Tyrrell (1 898) 


Middle Thelon River Survey 

MacNeish (1951) 

1 950 

Artillery & Athabasca Survey 

Fyles (personal comm) 

1 954 

Reported First Grant Lake Survey 

Moffatt (Harp 1959) 


Dubawnt River Collecting 

Harp (1959, 1961) 


Beverly, Aberdeen, Grant Lakes 

Irving (1 968) 


Grant Lake & Slow River 

Wright (1972, 1975, 1976) 

1 969, 

Aberdeen & Grant Lake Excavation 

Gordon (1 975, 1 976) 

1 983 

Thelon, Taltson, Cree, Hanbury, and Elk 
Survey and Excavation 

Minni (1 976) 


Black Lake Survey and Excavation 

Kalinka (personal comm), 
Sharp (1 988), Meyer (1 979, 
1 983), Jarvenpa et al. 1 988 


Isolated Caribou Inuit and Caribou-Eater Site Finds 

Pike's Portage to record musk ox on the Thelon River, 
John Hornby and Critchell-Bullock collected data that 
was used by the Advisory Board on Wildlife Protection 
to establish the Thelon Game Sanctuary (Canada Ga- 
zette 1927:61:4). In 1929, the RCMP positioned food 
caches in the middle Thelon in an effort to investigate 
the starvation deaths of Hornby and two companions 
who had missed the fall caribou migration. A year later, 
the RCMP built a cabin in what was later called Warden's 
Grove to help patrol the new game sanctuary (Hoare 
1 990). The area, however, remained closed to hunting 
and mineral exploration. Environmental studies that 
focused on the region's biology, botany, and archae- 
ology were discouraged by the sheer distance needed 
to travel there and the burden of allocating half a plane's 
payload for gas for the return flight. 

In the late 1 960s, the potential for short-term re- 
search in distant areas grew with the availability of air 
photos and maps, better aircraft and radio transmit- 
ters, and light-weight food. The Riveredge Foundation 
of Calgary launched a two-year field project in the 

5 6 

central Barrenlands through the University of Calgary, 
after receiving a collection of stone tools in 1 969 from 
Ben Strickland, an amateur archaeologist involved in a 
program to capture musk ox calves for the Calgary 
Zoo. The project solved a major logistics problem by 
using an Armed Forces Hercules to drop several years 
of supplies at Warden's Grove. Archaeological excava- 
tions started in 1 971 near the junction of the Hanbury, 
Clarke, and Thelon Rivers (Gordon 1975) and yielded 
tools from well-dated, stratified contexts at four large 
sites. These tools were then used to assign various 
components from sixty-four nearby surface sites to 
the Shield Archaic, Pre-Dorset, and Taltheilei phases. 
Piano period tools were later identified and dated at 
the Migod site at Crow Hill on the Dubawnt River. 
Surveys from Warden's Grove were extended down- 
river to Hornby Point, up the Hanbury River to Dickson 
Canyon, and overland to Clarke River and Steele Lake. 
The lower Thelon to Beverly Lake was subsequently 
surveyed by canoeist and amateur archaeologist Frank 




Caribou Ranges 

In a comparison of Pre-Dorset 
tools from the Thelon River area 
to those from other parts of the 
Barrenlands, it became clear that 
caribou ranges were keys to un- 
derstanding human adaptation. 
Indeed, the similarity of tools 
within one range was greater 
than it was for tools from differ- 
ent ranges. The lives of people 
and of caribou, the hunters and 
the hunted, could not be sepa- 
rated. In order to understand the 
ancient hunters, one had to un- 
derstand the caribou. Archaeo- 
logical research became multi- 
disciplinary, requiring an under- 
standing of caribou habits, 
ranges, and their influence on 
hunters now and in ancient times. 

The fact that caribou breed 
separately in fixed ranges (Parker 
1 972) turned out to be crucial. It 
helped focus our research on the 
Beverly range, from the caribou's 
forested winter range to their calv- 
ing grounds. Using our knowledge 
of herd movements to and from lake and river cross- 
ings on the migration route, we carefully examined air 
photos, thereby minimizing the costs and time of 
ground survey by developing predictive models of 
where sites would be located. We analyzed animal 
bones, as well as the tools used to kill and process the 
animals, in order to help us compare the present and 
past migrations of both hunters and animals. 

In 1 973, we identified the northern limit of the cari- 
bou range in a survey of the Back River from McKinley 
River to Garry Lake, recording Inuit houses, caches, 
graves, and inukshuit. A year later, we recovered tools 
from all cultural periods at Migod (Gordon 1976). In 







Q Sharp Q Minni (J 

Millar, Meyer & Jarvenpa 


4.2/ Archaeological investigations in the Beverly Range from 1970 to 1993 
are indicated above, as is the path of the caribou migration. 

later years, we located sites in the interior of the range 
enclosed by the Thelon, Dubawnt, and Taltson Rivers. 
Because we knew that the Chipewyan and their pre- 
decessors, unlike the Cree, used their craft to cross 
rivers rather than to paddle down them, we were able 
to confirm, on the basis of interior tundra and tree-line 
sites, that they had followed the herds rather than the 
rivers. In 1 975, we found Chipewyan tent frames, dry- 
ing racks, graves, and a family supply box with 
beadwork and cartridge reloading supplies from the 
1930s on the Taltson River, while farther upriver at 
Gray Lake we discovered a ninety-year-old Chipewyan 
teepee frame. 


Some of the Chipewyan settlements on the Du- 
bawnt headwaters appear to have been completely 
bypassed by the fur trade and the southward move- 
ments of the Caribou Inuit. During our survey, two 
members of our team camped on one side of a lake. 
Their barefoot prints, test pitting, and nightly singing 
terrified the Chipewyan who were on the other side of 
the lake. The Chipewyan thought the surveyors were 
bekaycho, or bushmen (Sharp 1 988); if my crew had 
not moved on, they might have been shot. 

In 1976, the excavation of site KjNb-7 in Warden's 
Grove provided an early Shield Archaic date of 6050 
B.P. The date came from a level associated with a 
caribou mandible whose tooth increments indicated a 
spring kill. Because the Shield Archaic climate was 
warmer, with longer summers, humans may have been 
able to make earlier seasonal movements. 

About 100 kilometers southwest, a survey at a 
Whitefish Lake water crossing revealed a buried site 
rich in materials from all Taltheilei phases; this discov- 
ery permitted the further classification of tools from 
surface sites around Lakes Jim, Mantic, and Sid and 
down the Elk River to Warden's Grove. A 4,200-year- 
old Duncan point found in a level contemporaneous 
with the Shield Archaic appeared to have been 
brought from the forest by Archaic hunters. Tools from 
all Taltheilei phases were found at Cree Lake in north- 
ern Saskatchewan. Henry Sharp (personal communica- 
tion 1993) discovered some Chipewyan sites located 
away from the shore of Firedrake Lake, which we had 
missed in our 1 977 survey. In the 1 970s, Meyer (1 979, 
1 983) found evidence of Cree and Late Taltheilei con- 
tact on the Churchill and Haultain Rivers of northern 

To Wright's and Nero's site inventories from Lake 
Athabasca, we added sites between the William River 
and Yakow Lake and also dated a buried Chipewyan 
level. Further east at Fond-du-Lac, we continued Mac- 
Neish's earlier survey, locating artifacts and chipping 
stations that were visible in large blowouts on the south 
shore. Most of the artifacts were Taltheilei, but some 

5 8 

small chert flakes were reminiscent of Pre-Dorset. The 
excavations at Mosquito Lake in 1982 and 1983 
revealed tools from the Taltheilei and Pre-Dorset peri- 
ods. Piano points were curiously absent even though 
1 34 of them had been found at Grant Lake 1 00 kilo- 
meters to the northeast. 

In 1977, Hans Kalinka (personal communication, 
1 978) found a number of historic Caribou Inuit sites at 
Aberdeen Lake where the Thelon and Dubawnt Rivers 
merge. A year later, he uncovered a whale bone sled 
runner at the entrance to Grant Lake, along with a site 
(KkLn-1 8) at the Chamberlin River. Tom Foess (personal 
communication, 1 984) recovered a long, Chipewyan 
metal lancehead at KcNe-1 below Whitefish Lake. Rob 
Common, while wintering at Warden's Grove, found a 
Middle Taltheilei point at KkNb-23, near the remains of 
an incinerated Soviet nuclear-powered satellite (ASC 
Archives). In the 1980s, Robert Jarvenpa and Hetty Jo 
Brumbach located Chipewyan sites between Cree Lake 
and the Churchill River. 

While Hearne had confirmed the historic use of 
the central Beverly Range by the Chipewyan, recent 
archaeological researchers have recorded the presence 
of the historic tundra Inuit, who had derived from the 
coastal Thule. After the Chipewyan abandoned the 
tundra during the early fur trade, the Inuit had expanded 
their hunting area southward. Over the years, how- 
ever, the Inuit adaptation proved unsuccessful because 
they were confined to the tundra and were prevented, 
by the historic forest Chipewyan, from following the 
herds south. 

Beverly Range Chronology 

Since 1970, the discovery of many new sites has 
enhanced our understanding of the early inhabitants 
of the Beverly Range. The large body of artifacts, sites, 
and dates has allowed us to divide the early history of 
the Beverly Range into several traditions, or past ways 
of life. These, in turn, have been subdivided into differ- 
ent phases based on changing toolkits (table 4.3). More 
than 1 00 radiocarbon dates have confirmed the con- 


Table 4.3/ Beverly Range chronology and respective investigators for each period 

Tradition/ Phase Period (Years Ago) Investigators 

Caribou Inuit 


Gordon, Harp, Kalinka, Tyrrell, 



Cordon, Hearne, Jarvenpa, Sharp, 


1 m. ft h - 1 11 r— _ 1 1 

Late, Middle, Early, and 

200-1300, 1300-1800, 1800- 

Cordon, Meyer, Wright 

Earliest Taltheilei 

2450, 2450-2600 

Late and Early Pre-Dorset 

2650-2950, 2950-3450 

Cordon, Harp, Irving, Minni, Wright 

Late, Middle, and Early Shield 

3500-4450, 4450-5450, 5500- 

Cordon, Harp, Irving, Wright 



Northern Piano 


Gordon, Harp, Irving, Minni, Wright 

tinuous human occupation of the region through four 
major traditions: Taltheilei (Historic-2600 B.P.), Pre- 
Dorset (2650-3450 B.P.), Shield Archaic (3500-6450 
B.P.), and Northern Piano (7000-8000 B.P.). 

The Late Taltheilei phase merges with historic for- 
est Chipewyan. Late Taltheilei/Chipewyan sites fea- 
ture European goods that were brought inland from 
Hudson Bay about 300 years ago, well ahead of the 
fur traders. Iron, steel, brass, copper, cloth, pottery, and 
glass items were exchanged with other Indian groups 
for fur and meat. These items occur among collapsed 
tent poles and tent rings and are mixed with quartzite 
tools in upper archaeological levels. These sites are 
too recent for radiocarbon dating. Missing from the 
archaeological record, however, are perishable items, 
such as crude wood paintings, quill work, moose-hair 
embroidery, double paddles borrowed from the Cari- 
bou Inuit, and birchbark boiling baskets from the Cree. 
These objects were described by Hearne (1795) dur- 
ing his early visits to the tundra and forest areas. 

The Chipewyan emerged from the archaeologically 
identifiable Late Taltheilei phase (200-1 300 B.P.). This 
phase is characterized by small notched arrowheads, 
asymmetric tools, and crude unpatterned bone and 
wooden tools. The projectile points vary more than 
they do in earlier phases, primarily because of the addi- 
tion of the bow-and-arrow to an earlier technology 
based on lancing caribou at water crossings. 

In a half-dozen stratified sites, the Late Taltheilei 
levels are underlain by Middle Taltheilei (1 300-1 800 
B.P.) levels. The Middle Taltheilei is known for its 

standardized long-stemmed lanceheads and knives 
used to spear and butcher caribou at water crossings 
along the migration corridor. It has more identifiable 
knives than other phases, as well as triangular scrap- 
ers. The Early Taltheilei phase (1 800-2550 B.P.) is char- 
acterized by shouldered points and knives, which 
change gradually from dual to single shoulders and 
then to a stem as time passes. 

The Pre-Dorset peoples of the Arctic Small Tool 
tradition (3450-2650 B.P.) represent an intrusion of Inuit- 
related peoples that can be traced to the Siberian 
Neolithic (Irving 1 970:341 ). The Pre-Dorset period be- 
gan more than 4,000 years ago in the High Arctic, but 
after 500 years many hunters moved south when ex- 
treme cold curtailed their maritime hunting activities. 
These hunters occupied the Barrenlands until 2,650 
years ago, quickly adopting the practice of following 
the herd, and adapting to both forest and tundra envi- 
ronments. Because only a tenth of the caribou winter 
on the tundra, making hunting perilous, most hunters 
stayed near the tree line. When the climate warmed, 
the Pre-Dorset peoples returned to the coast. 

The Shield Archaic peoples occupied the Beverly 
range during the "climatic optimum," or Hypsithermal 
(6500-3500 B.P.). Wright (1 976:91-93) has suggested 
that they developed from the Northern Piano based 
on a change from lanceolate to long, elegant side- 
notched points and on similar types and ratios of 
burinated points and unifacial knives. The sites Wright 
excavated at Grant, Aberdeen, and Schultz Lake Piano, 
however, have no Early Shield Archaic components, 


and thus provide no data to confirm or deny his transi- 
tion hypothesis. An Early Shield Archaic point dating 
to just prior to the Piano phase at Warden's Grove, 
however, is short and crude, suggesting that further 
fieldwork is needed to resolve the issue. 

The oldest tradition in the Barrenlands is Northern 
Piano, characterized by Agate Basin points. These points 
are 9,000 to 10,000 years old at their type site in 
Wyoming. Midway through the Prairies, they are 8,000 
to 9,000 years old. In the Barrenlands, they range from 
7,000 to 8,000 years old. Piano bison hunting camps 
are found along a thin line extending from Wyoming to 
northern Saskatchewan, but at Lakes Athabasca and 
Black, caribou become the predominant prey. 

While the general sequence of Beverly range 
phases is well known, some of the details (e.g., the 
origins of the Shield Archaic) are still unclear. Current 
studies have begun to identify the differences between 
forest and tundra artifacts. Lithic artifacts from the 
forest, for example, tend to be smaller in size because 
they were worn or resharpened repeatedly. The sources 
of stone sources were far away on the tundra or in the 
forest under snow cover. The styles also are different; 
the knife hafts found at forest sites, for example, are 
tapered to allow them to be inserted, with mittened 
hands, in the marrow cavity of a long-bone. 


Undoubtedly, the caribou influenced every aspect of 
life for those who depended on them. Their availability 

and physical condition greatly influenced human 
nutrition and birth cycles. Baptismal certificates since 
the 1 850s show that four out of five Chipewyan births 
occurred in February, March, or April, nine months after 
the fall caribou migration. In the fall, human nutrition, 
especially in terms of fat consumption, would have 
been greatest, and women would have been most 
fertile (i.e., when fat exceeded 1 2 percent of body 
weight). As I have noted elsewhere, "the Chipewyan 
cycle of July-August conception and March-April 
birthing meshes well with the caribou cycle, just as 
it undoubtedly did for earlier peoples" (Gordon 

The study of animal ranges and migration routes 
to discover site locations and interpret artifacts can 
be applied to areas outside of the Barrenlands. 
I have used the principles learned in the Canadian Arc- 
tic to investigate past herd following in northern Rus- 
sia, where I found differences in tools and materials 
between tundra and forest ranges and between sea- 
sons (Gordon 1998, 2000). 

Archaeology is built upon a framework developed 
through many years of fieldwork and research. In par- 
ticular, the pioneers of archaeology in the Beverly 
range— Elmer Harp, Richard MacNeish, William Irving, 
and James Wright— followed their curiosity and their 
instincts to provide this framework. We honor them by 
continuing what they began, by working with inte- 
grity, by analyzing well, and by holding on to the spirit 
of discovery that guided them. 


j^)iamOnd JenneSS: Tnef~?rst Canadian Arctic 


Well over half of the North American Arctic is Canadian 
territory, yet there was only one Canadian in the first 
generation of arctic archaeologists, a group otherwise 
dominated by Danes and a few Americans. The lone 
Canadian was Diamond Jenness. Even here, Canada's 
claim is not complete because Jenness was born in 
New Zealand in 1 886 and educated there and at Balliol 
College, Oxford. 

But Canada's claim is still a strong one. After join- 
ing the Canadian Arctic Expedition in 1913, Jenness 
lived the rest of his life in Canada until his death near 
Ottawa in 1969. Between 1916 and 1918, he served 
with the Canadian Army in France, returning to take a 
position with the nascent National Museum of Canada 
(fig. 5.1). In 1926, he replaced Edward Sapir as chief 
anthropologist at the museum, a position he held until 
his retirement in the late 1 940s. In 1 937, he was elected 
president of the Society for American Archaeology and, 
in 1 939, president of the American Anthropological 
Association, the only Canadian to have held both hon- 
ors. He also became a Companion of the Order of 
Canada in the year of his death (Collins and Taylor 1 970; 
Richling 1 990). 

Jenness denied any status as an archaeologist. Cer- 
tainly he is best known for his ethnographic work, par- 
ticularly among the Copper Inuit of Coronation Gulf 
(1 922), and the publication of his classic Indians of 
Canada (1 932). My claim for him as Canada's founding 
arctic archaeologist rests on three major achievements: 
his work at Barter Island, his identification of Dorset 
culture, and the basic Eskimo cultural sequence he 
defined as Bering Strait. 

Barter Island 

Jenness conducted the first scientific archaeologi- 
cal work in the North American Arctic. This was his 
excavation at Barter Island in 1914, which he under- 
took while creatively "killing time" with the Canadian 
Arctic Expedition (jenness 1957, 1990; Hall 1987). 
Although credit for the first arctic excavations some- 
times goes to Vilhjalmur Stefansson because of his 
work a few years earlier at Point Barrow, Alaska, and at 
Franklin Bay, in western Arctic Canada (Morrison 1 990; 
Stefansson 191 3a), Stefansson was no archaeologist. 
He kept a few notes but made no maps, floor plans, or 
photographic records. Like Captain George Comer in 
the Eastern Arctic, he was a collector. Almost all of the 
extensive archaeological collections attributed to him 
in various museums, including the Canadian Museum 
of Civilization and the American Museum of Natural 
History, were purchased through the fur trader Charlie 
Browerfrom Alaskan Inupiaq "subsistence diggers" (the 
term is borrowed from Staley 1 993). 

Of course, a coherent history of arctic archaeology 
in North America usually starts with neither Stefansson 
nor Jenness but with Therkel Mathiassen and his Thule 
culture excavations around northern Hudson Bay in the 

early 1 920s (Mathiassen 1 927b). This is entirely appro- 
priate. Jenness did not publish his Barter Island material 
until 1 957 and then in a rather narrative format. In fact, 
the material was not fully described until Edwin Hall 
wrote it up in his report "A Land Full of People, a Long 
Time Ago" (Hall 1987), and even that remains unpub- 
lished. Nonetheless, the claim that Jenness undertook 
the first scientific excavations is a solid one. He made 
detailed notes, took photographs, drew house and 
floor plans, and knew where his artifacts came from. 
As Hall (1987:1 8) remarks, 

"took a scientific 
approach to the 
process of archaeo- 
logical excavation. 
He was concerned 
about preserving the 
integrity of the 
remains by applying 
scientific methods . . 
. to the excavation 
process. He was 
innovative in at- 
tempting to defeat 
the ground frost 
problem . . . [and] 
relatively rigorous in 
the documentation 
of sites, features and 

Jenness, in other words, set 
a standard for archaeologi- 
cal field techniques that 
was not eclipsed until the 1950s. 

Dorset Culture 

Jenness' second crown of laurels is perhaps the best 
known: his identification of Dorset culture in 192 5 
(Jenness 1925). He did this on the basis of a mixed 
collection donated to the National Museum of Canada 
by a government engineer named L T. Burwash. Part of 
the collection was said to have come from somewhere 
near Cape Dorset on southern Baffin Island— the site 
has yet to be identified— and the rest from nearby Coats 

5. ]/ Diamond Jenness initiated archeological work in 
the North American Arctic. 

Island. Jenness was able to sort out familiar Thule and 
more recent Inuit artifacts from among a number of 
unfamiliar, and apparently older, tools. He ascribed these 
tools to a distinct "Cape Dorset culture," a feat of de- 
duction that Collins and Taylor (1 970) later described 
as "one of the most brilliant in the history of Arctic 

Whenjenness finally published his "Archaeology of 
the Central Eskimo" two years later, Mathiassen took 
issue with his conclusions. Mathiassen believed that 
Thule culture— his Thule cul- 
ture—was the basic substra- 
tum of arctic history and 
nothing could be older 
than Thule. His famous de- 
bate with Birket-Smith over 
the Paleoeskimo, or even 
Protoeskimo, status of the 
inland Caribou Inuit living 
west of Hudson Bay can be 
seen in this light (Birket- 
Smith 1 930; Mathiassen 
1 930b) and so, too, can his 
denial of Dorset culture as 
a discrete and earlier cultural 
entity (Mathiassen 1927b: 
1 64-1 65). Of course, while 
Mathiassen was right with 
Birket-Smith, he was wrong 
with Jenness. 

Bering Strait 

Jenness's third claim to fame as an archaeologist is the 
most substantial. This is his work in the Bering Strait 
region in 1 926 Uenness 1 928a; Morrison 1 991 ). Even 
at this early time in the history of archaeology, some 
Canadian Arctic questions could be answered in Alaska, 
and it was Jenness who first looked for and found them. 

Jenness went to Bering Strait with the stated pur- 
pose of investigating the origins of "Eskimo" culture in 
order to determine "whether it arose in Alaska or 


elsewhere" (Jenness 1928a:71). He worked at two lo- 
cations: Cape Prince of Wales, at the tip of the Seward 
Peninsula, and Little Diomede Island, in the middle of 
Bering Strait. His analysis of this work was limited to a 
short preliminary report (Jenness 1928a) and a few 
subsequent discussions elsewhere (Jenness 1929a, 
1 933), perhaps because he had been appointed chief 
anthropologist of the National Museum of Canada the 
same year he went to Alaska and had new demands 
on his time (see Richling 1995). Together, however, 
these writings offered observations and conclusions 
that were at least as profound as those in his 1925 
Dorset paper. 

At Cape Prince of Wales, Jenness concentrated on 
a large mound located just behind the modern village. 
He never gave it a name beyond the designation 
"Old Village" (fig. 5.2), but it seems to have been the 
same mound that Henry Collins later excavated, called 
Kurigitavik (Collins 1 937a, 1 941 ). The mound was pit- 
ted with house ruins, and Jenness, with the help of 
an elderly local man and half a dozen Boy Scouts, 
was able to excavate eight of them (fig 5.3). Else- 
where in the village, he excavated four other houses. 
Altogether, it was a very impressive number, since he 
spent only thirty-five days at Wales and had other work 
to do. 

Jenness collected about 1 ,800 artifacts from Cape 
Prince of Wales, and they are still part of the archaeo- 
logical collections of the Canadian Museum of Civiliza- 
tion (Old Catalogue System IX-F-6678-8497). He di- 
vided the ruins into two main groups on the basis of 
their artifact inventories. Several house ruins located 
around the village were evidently post-contact in age. 
They produced harpoon heads with iron endblades, 
iron pipe cleaners, and an occasional glass bead. These 
trade goods were rare enough, however, to reflect an 
early contact situation. The houses in the Kurigitavik 
mound, however, were clearly older. None of them 
yielded Russian trade material. A pair of superimposed 
houses situated on a bank overlooking the mound was 
also pre-contact in age. 

5.2/ Jenness' sketch map from his 1 926 excavations 
at Cape Prince of Wales, Alaska. 

In addition to the presence or absence of Russian 
trade goods, Jenness focused on harpoon heads as a 
key variable for seriation. He noticed that the post- 
contact houses yielded primarily a modern type of 
closed-socket harpoon head, along with a few open- 
socket specimens with drilled lashing holes. The open- 
socket forms were identical to the Thule culture har- 
poon heads, specifically Thule type 3, which Mathiassen 
had recovered from Naujan and other Canadian sites 
(Mathiassen 1 927b: 1 8-20). Apparently such harpoon 
heads had not only been distributed throughout the 
North American Arctic but had also persisted in use at 
Bering Strait until only a few centuries ago. 

Many of the houses in the Kurigitavik mound and 
the two superimposed houses on the bank seemed to 
document a purer, or older, form of Thule culture. The 
harpoon heads from these houses were an open- 
socket Thule type, again mostly Thule type 3 and vari- 
ants thereof, but with lashing slots rather than drilled 
holes. Jenness was able to identify a clear cultural 
sequence that ran from Thule to recent times, and a 


three-part harpoon head sequence that extended from 
Thule open-socket with slotted lashing holes (fig. 5.4d), 
to Thule open-socket with drilled holes (fig. 5.4b,c), 
and finally to the modern closed-socket types (fig. 5.4a). 

After a month at Cape Prince of Wales, Jenness 
hitched a ride to Little Diomede Island where he exca- 
vated several more contact-period houses and a midden 
that extended into pre-contact times. Everything that 
he found reinforced the sequence that he had already 
established at Cape Prince of Wales. At the same time, 
he purchased some artifacts of previously unknown 
types from local native diggers. Made of ivory, these 
artifacts were dark and heavily patinated and beauti- 
fully decorated with swirling incised lines. The harpoon 
heads were unlike anything he had seen before, with 
inserted flint sideblades and multiple basal spurs. One 
such harpoon head, which Jenness saw being recov- 
ered by someone digging an ice cellar, came from a 
depth of 8 feet (2.5 meters), far deeper than the more 
familiar material. Evidently, the culture that had pro- 
duced these beautiful tools was much older than Thule. 
Jenness named it the Bering Sea culture; today, it is 
known as Old Bering Sea. 

Jenness made three important observations about 
this newly expanded cultural sequence 
for western Alaska (Jenness 1928a, 
1933). First, he suggested that the 
Bering Sea culture was about 2,000 
years old and had mainly a Bering Sea 
distribution— ideas that are essentially 
correct (see Gerlach and Mason 1 992). 
He also proposed that this culture's in- 
fluence extended as far northeast as 
Point Barrow, referring here to Stefans- 
son's Birnirk collection, which at first he 
failed to clearly distinguish from Old 
Bering Sea proper (Jenness's Bering Sea 
collection from Little Diomede includes 
a number of Birnirk types). Finally, he 
saw the Old Bering Sea culture as an- ^ ^ , 

cestral to Thule. Boy Scouts 

Of course, not all of Jenness' observations were 
new. Mathiassen (1 927b:l 82-1 84) had suggested an 
Alaskan origin for Thule, noting strong similarities be- 
tween Canadian Thule culture and the traditional cul- 
ture of northwest Alaskan Inupiat. This suggestion was 
strengthened by the identification of Thule-type har- 
poon heads in the Alaskan archaeological collections 
made by Stefansson, Ras-mussen, and others (see 
Mathiassen 1 930a; Wissler 1916). But Jenness receives 
the credit for actually demonstrating this suggestion. 
First, Jenness actually excavated several Thule culture 
sites in Alaska; these were not just a few stray finds 
out of context but coherent artifact assemblages with 
associated features and faunal material. Second, and 
most importantly, he placed the Thule culture into an 
archaeological framework; he showed stratigraphically 
how it underlaid the modern culture and, in turn, was 
underlain by the more ancient Bering Sea culture in a 
clear and more or less continuous cultural sequence. 

It is interesting to note that Mathiassen once 
again disputedjenness's conclusions. In Archaeological 
Collections from the Western Eskimos, Mathiassen 
(1930a:78) denied that Birnirk and Old Bering Sea 
were ancestral to, or earlier than, Thule culture. For 

the help of an elderly assistant (above) and half a dozen 
Jenness excavated twelve houses at Cape Prince of Wales. 



Mathiassen, Birnirk was a cross between Old Bering 
Sea and Thule, a kind of transitional culture that docu- 
mented a short-lived Bering Sea influence along the 
Arctic coast. This influence waned as more Thule im- 
migrants arrived, possibly from Asia. For Mathias sen, 
Birnirk only appeared to be older than Thule, imply- 
ing that Bering Sea might 
not have been an "Eskimo" 
culture at all. We can see 
Mathiassen once again at- 
tempting to maintain the 
priority of Thule culture in 
the face of Jenness' evi- 
dence to the contrary. 
Mathiassen may have felt 
that his explanation was 
a little too ingenious be- 
cause he concluded his ar- 
gument with a near-dis- 
claimer: "The conditions 
seem complicated, and 
the explanation given will 
possibly be rejected later 
on when some day the so 
badly needed archaeo- 
logical investigations in the Bering Strait region are un- 

But the investigations had already been undertaken. 
The answers to Mathiassen's questions were already 
apparent in Jenness' conclusions. Certainly, they were 
conclusively verified by Henry Collins' (1 937a, 1 937b, 
1941) subsequent excavations. 


The first systematic archaeological work in the Arctic 
during the early decades of the twentieth century pro- 
duced two general models of culture history. One was 
a simple model, espoused by Mathiassen (1927b, 
1 930a, 1 930b), that subsumed nearly everything within 
Thule culture. The second, more complex model was 
suggested by Jenness from the perspective of his re- 

5.4/ Bering Strait harpoon-head sequence 

search in both the Western and the Eastern Arctic. In 
his brief discussions of the Old Bering Sea culture, 
Jenness (1928a, 1933) stressed its relative sophistica- 
tion, both artistically and in other realms. But even this 
culture, the earliest Western Arctic culture then known, 
could not be the Protoeskimo culture that the eth- 
nologist Steensby (1 91 7) 
and his disciples posited. 
Jenness (1 925:437) made 
a similar point in his dis- 
cussion of the Dorset cul- 
ture, which he said was 
"certainly not the culture 
of the first Eskimos who 
settled on the coast and 
gained their livelihood by 
hunting sea mammals. Of 
that earliest culture we 
have yet to find the re- 
mains." The cultural his- 
tory of the Arctic, indeed, 
must be complicated to 
encompass two such 
early, dissimilar, and al- 
ready-sophisticated cul- 
tures as Dorset and Old Bering Sea. And so it has 
proved to be. 

It is a pity Jenness never thought of himself as an 
archaeologist. The arctic sequence as we now under- 
stand it was already implicit in his conclusions sev- 
enty-five years ago. 


I wish to thank Susan Rowley for her help in locating 
Jenness's 1926 field notes, including the site map re- 
produced here as Figure 5.2, from among Henry Collins' 
papers at the Smithsonian Institution. I am also grate- 
ful to Ian Dyck for editorial assistance, William Fitzhugh 
and Stephen Loring for their invitation to attend the 
Elders Conference, and Dan Odess for rescuing the 
conference proceedings, and this paper, from oblivion. 


(L to R) Norman Emerson, William Taylor and Henry Collins at Native Point, Southampton island, 1954 


j~Yadition and (^ontmuitu in sicimo /\rt 


This chapter is based largely on the research of Carl 
Schuster (1 904-1 969). A more extended treatment of 
his general thesis as well as details about the figures in 
this chapter 1 can be found in Schuster and Carpenter's 
Social Symbolism in Ancient and Tribal Art, 1 986- 1 988. 
This massive, twelve-volume work was privately print- 
ed and copies were deposited in 600 academic librar- 
ies (see also Schuster and Carpenter 1 996). 

Schuster employed the comparative method to 
trace a memory link from yesterday back to Paleolithic 
times. He did so in the face of professional skepticism. 
Henri Breuil warned him: "Everytime is mixing thing from 
quite different countries one will arrive to nothing!" (per- 
sonal communication). 

In 1 955, Schuster submitted for publication a study 
of Paleolithic traditions in Eskimo art, but it was re- 
jected on the advice of an editorial reader who wrote 
that "the premise that prehistoric art can be interpreted 
by modern primitive art is out of date." 

Fashion aside, tribal arts offer a valuable— perhaps 
the only— means of penetrating certain areas of an- 
cient art, hitherto terra incognita. Schematic art of pre- 
historic times will remain a subject of futile specula- 
tion as long as it is not placed on a comparative basis 
with modern tribal designs. The basis for this approach 
is simple: art begets art; if you seek the wellspring of 
traditional art, be prepared to dig deep. 

Upside-Down Ladies, Birds, and Animals 

Paleolithic and Eskimo artists produced three types of 
inverted images: humans, birds, and animals. Human 

figurines from France (fig. 6.1), European Russia (fig. 6.2), 
and the Late Paleolithic site of Malta in central Siberia 
(figs. 6.3, 4) were designed to hang upside down. Al- 
though not all Paleolithic figurines were perforated in 
this way, many were, and some that were not may 
have been attached by adhesion. Suspending them 
from their feet, presumably on necklaces or as single 
pendants, was clearly an established custom through- 
out wide areas of Eurasia, from Aurignacian through 
Magdalenian times. This practice continued into later 
eras in Eastern Europe, the Near East, Polynesia, Indone- 
sia, and especially in arctic Canada-Greenland. The figu- 
rines shared more than an inverted suspension. Facial 
features were generally omitted, though not always. 
Arms were minimal or absent. Legs tapered to a com- 
mon point. Buttocks suggested steatopygia. 

Most Canadian-Greenlandic figurines (figs. 6.5-8) 
belong to the Thule culture (ca. A.D. 900-1 500), a rela- 
tively late phase of Eskimo prehistory. One especially 
fine example (fig. 6.9), however, appears to be the 
product of the antecedent Dorset culture, which 
flourished about 800 B.C.-A.D. 1 300 in these regions. 

6 9 

Whether these objects were worn singly or alone, I do 
not know, but a small excavation near Igloolik pro- 
duced several that were alike, raising the possibility 
that they were worn together. Moreover, pendants 
with two or even three inverted figures (fig. 6.8) look 
like excerpts from neck- 
laces, i.e., taken from a 
necklace pendant series. 

Eleven pendants of lig- 
nite (fig. 6.1 0) from south- 
ern Germany, dating to the 
Terminal Magdalenian (ca. 
8000 B.C.), were found to- 
gether, suggesting they 
formed a necklace. The 
larger pendants were per- 
forated. The smaller ones 
were presumably attach- 
ed by adhesion, an expla- 
nation that may also ap- 
ply to the tiny, unperfor- 
ated female figurines from 
the Paleolithic site of Mezin 
in European Russia. The 
Magdalenian lignite pen- 
dants have an expansion 
just below each perfora- 
tion, on the same side as 
the buttocks that must re- 

imitated art, for steatopygia is not characteristic of 
modern Eskimos. Some Thule artists retained the 
steatopygous form by emphasizing boots (fig. 6.5). 
Others simply endowed their models amply or ignored 
this feature. Compare, for example, figure 6. 1 2, a Paleo- 
lithic figurine from Italy, 
with figure 6.9, the Dor- 
set figurine from Cana- 
da. Such images sur- 
vived into Mesolithic, 
Neolithic and Eneolith- 
ic times in Europe and 
the Near East. An Early 
Neolithic necklace (fig. 
6.1 3), from Qatal Hiiyuk 
in Anatolia (7th millen- 
nium B.C.), when care- 
fully examined, reveals 
an image of steatopy- 
gous buttocks perfo- 
rated for inverted sus- 
pension. Debased 
pendants resemble 
but, I believe, do not 
represent birds. 

Ancient carvers, as 
copyists, may them- 
selves have fallen into 

6. 1 through 6.8/ Human figurines from the Eurasian Paleolithic 1 ' S m ' s ' n,:er P retat ' on - ' 
present the calves, which (1 -4) and Canadian-Greenlandic Thule Culture (5-8) see this error as the ori- 

suggests that these figures gin of Eskimo images of 

hung upside down. swimming ducks (fig. 6.1 4), some of which had human 

Clearly the inverted-female pendant, singly or in 
graduated series on a necklace, persisted for many 
thousands of years during Paleolithic times and into 
later eras. Eskimo examples originated, I believe, in the 
Old World Paleolithic, not in Neolithic times, and sur- 
vived in the Far North until yesterday. 

The prominent feature of all Paleolithic images of 
women is steatopygia (fig. 6.1 1). Paleolithic artists 
presumably imitated nature. Eskimo artists presumably 

busts (fig. 6.1 5). Both types were popular from Alaska 
to Greenland. Eskimos used them in tingmiujaq, a throw- 
ing game of chance. They often perforated each bird 
at its tail and then, to store them, strung them on a 
cord, hanging them head down Strung sets resembled 
necklaces of inverted-female images (fig. 6.1 6). 

Not all inverted-bird images had this origin. Some 
were clearly intended as bird pendants: an example 
from Paleolithic Malta in central Siberia (fig. 6.1 7) and 


from a Dorset site in eastern Canada (fig. 6.1 8). Dorset 
bird pendants almost uniformly hung upside down. 
So did Dorset animal pendants (fig. 6.1 9). Inverted ani- 
mal pendants also occurred in the European Paleolithic 
(fig. 6.20), with a well-worn 
hole through the rear leg. In 
other words, Paleolithic and 
Eskimo artists inverted three 
effigy types: human, bird, 
and animal. They also 
shared the bilobed bead or 
pendant. If we can judge 
from related evidence, 
specimens from the Euro- 
pean Paleolithic, including 
material derived from East 
Gravettian culture (ca. 
24,000 B.C.) in Moravia, rep- 
resented a woman reduced 
to breasts (fig. 6.21 ). Gradu- 
ated series of such beads 
were strung on necklaces 
in both Paleolithic and later 
times. In Eskimo art, bilobed 
pendants ranged from 

Alaska to Greenland. One 
form resembled firm 
breasts (fig 6.22); another, 
slumped breasts (fig. 
6.23). Eskimos also shared 

with Paleolithic peoples the single-lobed pendant, 
flattened on one side. When joined, two formed a 
bilobed pendant. 

Segmented pendants were also common to both 
Old and New Worlds. I know of no identifiable Pale- 
olithic examples, but Neolithic examples are so com- 
mon and so widespread that Paleolithic examples may 
simply await discovery. Or, perhaps, segmented pen- 
dants did not join this assemblage until Neolithic 
times. In any event, they were present in the Arctic 
and elsewhere. 

6.9 through 6. 16/ Pendants and necklaces of inverted fe- 
males (9-12) may have evolved into Eskimo swimming duck 
figurines and pendants (13-1 6). 

Precisely the same inventory of inverted-human, 
inverted-bird, inverted-animal, bilobed, and seg- 
mented pendants occurred in Polynesia. All of them, 
save the inverted-human figure, graced single neck- 
laces on Mangaia, and 
that one exception oc- 
curred elsewhere in 
Polynesia, both in 
naturalistic and in ab- 
stract form. Neighbor- 
ing Borneo had entire 
necklaces of inverted- 
human figures, includ- 
ing "abstract" steato- 
pygous examples. Pre- 
cisely the same pen- 
dant forms also oc- 
curred in the Neolithic 
and Eneolithic Near 
East. As in the Arctic 
and Oceania, several 
forms frequently ap- 
peared together on 
single necklaces, es- 
pecially necklaces 
with inverted-female 

I see inversion as a 
means of indicating 
that figurines repre- 
sented dead persons, or ancestors. I think they were 
worn to invoke ancestral powers to protect the 
living. Such effigies were not confined to necklaces. 
On Saint Lawrence Island in the Bering Strait, along the 
Amur River in eastern Siberia, on Queen Charlotte Is- 
lands in British Columbia, and in New Guinea, inverted- 
human effigies surrounded houses. Whether around a 
necklace or house, the symbolism remained un- 
changed: a protective border of ancestors guarding 
the living, sometimes encircling a human neck, some- 
times encircling a ceremonial house. 


Other Motifs 

While much more evidence of this curious tradition 
exists, our subject here concerns Paleolithic elements 
in Eskimo art— and we've only begun. There is, for 
instance, a rear flap on the coat of the Aurignacian 
"Venus" of L'espugue (fig. 6.24). There is also an 
Aurignacian notched pendant resembling a bull- 
roarer (fig. 6.2 5). Other examples of what appear to 
be bull-roarers occur in the Old World Paleolithic and 
Mesolithic. Among modern tribes, bull-roarers occur 
in Asia, Africa, Australia, Oceania, North America, and 
also among English schoolboys. Eskimos, from Alaska 
to Greenland, made them, many of which they 
notched. They also made buzzers, both the notched- 
disc type, which are so common elsewhere, and the 
rarer hourglass type. Among many modern tribes- 
men, the hourglass motif represents an ancestress. 


In Western design tradition, garment seams are a 
necessary evil, to be "thought away" as irrelevant to 
the design itself. One might suspect they would be 
suppressed everywhere in reproduction. But in ancient 
representations of clothing they are retained, even de- 
liberately emphasized. Seams that joined panels bla- 
zoned with "genealogies" of schematic human figures 
symbolized marital unions. It was this message that 
ancient artists wished to convey. 

Among northern peoples, where skin garments pre- 
dominate, seams became important parts of heraldic 
garment designs. Paleolithic carvers often rendered 
seams either as a single line with spurs (Type A): 

11 ■ I I I I ' ' ' 

or as two lines with interlocking spurs, sometimes called 
"toothed stitching" (Type B): 

The custom of "dressing" tools and other ob- 
jects is a common, widespread, ancient tribal pat- 
tern. For example, a seam of Type A is carved at the 

6. 17 through 6.25/ Variations of the inverted motif in- 
clude bird (17, 18) and animal ( 1 9, 20) pendants, female 
figures (21-23), and other motifs (24, 25). 

top of a Magdalenian ivory specimen from the Ukraine 
(fig. 6.26); its "garment" design is a basic genealogical 
pattern. An Okvik cup from the Bering Strait (fig. 6.27) 
"wears" a tailored garment stitched at the seams. 

A seam of Type B, which is virtually a trademark of 
Thule art, occurs in many other cultures. We see it in a 
Paleolithic bone carving from southern Russia (fig. 6.28). 
An early needle case from the Bering Strait exhibits a 
combination of Type A and Type B seams (fig. 6.29). 
Both of these objects appear to be "dressed" in com- 
partmented garments. The same motif, stacked sol- 
idly around a cylinder with a vertical divider, occurs on 
a number of ivory specimens from a Ukrainian site 
dated to 22,000 B.C. (fig. 6.30). Virtually identical speci- 
mens (four, to date) come from Canadian Pre-Dorset 
sites (figs. 6.31, 32). "Toothed-stitching" and vertical 


dividers and the peripheral notching are evident on 
the specimen in Figure 6.32. 

I see this design as an abbreviated genealogical 
pattern, with vertical lines separating opposing moi- 
eties. But no matter how one interprets the meaning, 
the form remains identical. 

Drilled and Notched Ornamentation 

Drilled ornamentation occurs in both European and 
Siberian Paleolithic art and was especially common in 
later Mesolithic art. Designs of dotted lines on Magle- 
mosian pendants, as well as on Thule ear pendants 
and other ornaments, may represent seams. "Pockets" 
of this dotted motif are scattered along the Pacific 
Coast, over the Barren Grounds to the Maritimes, and 
across the Far North from Alaska to Greenland. Several 
of these pockets are fairly early, dating to 
Old Copper (3000 B.C.) or Laurentian (2500 
B.C.) times. Thule examples are much later, of 
course, but earlier examples exist. I think the 
custom of marking seams with lines of drilled 
dots entered the New World both very early 
and very late. Figure 6.32 shows a peripher- 
ally notched bone cylinder from a Pre-Dorset 
context, dating to ca. 2200 B.C. In addition, 
there are peripherally notched bone beads 
from Moravia, dating to ca. 24,000 B.C. (fig. 
6.33), and another from the Paleoindian Lin- 
denmeier site in Colorado, dating to ca. 9000 
B.C. (fig. 6.34). Other examples fill in the gaps 
between these. 


"Tectiform" paintings on European cave walls 
look more anthropomorphic than architec- 
tural. For example, compare the paintings 
from a Dordogne cave (fig. 6.35) with two 
Siberian petroglyphs thought to be early (fig. 
6.36). The form becomes more explicitly an- 
thropomorphic on a Punuk Eskimo comb from 
the Bering Strait (fig. 6.37). Then compare 

the skeletal design on another Siberian petroglyph, also 
believed to be early (fig. 6.38), with a wooden effigy 
displaying classic Dorset engraving (fig. 6.39). 

Other correspondences in art, such as semi-lunar 
notching, can be demonstrated, but these are mere 
details, perhaps accidentally shared. What is more ba- 
sic is that Eskimo art resembles Paleolithic art gener- 
ally: it has the same "feel." This is apparent to even the 
most casual observer. Obviously, the Dordogne was 
not the High Arctic. But Paleolithic and Eskimo hunters 
pursued a way of life that must have been, in many 
respects, fairly close. Smoldering embers from that 
ancient life survived in many parts of the world, per- 
haps most of all in the Arctic. 

What survived primarily, of course, were not the 
outward forms of art but the underlying traditions that 

6.26 through 6.34/ Seam motif (26-32) and drill and notched 
(33, 34) ornamentation 


motivated that art. "Tradition" simply means "what is 
transmitted. " What is transmitted is an attitude of mind, 
a shape of heart. The final artistic product, the object, 
is merely its afterlife. Its real life is how it got to be that 
way. Much of Eskimo art got to be the way it was 
through tradition, not through trade or invention. 

Minute Carvings, Microscopic Engravings 

One common attitude shared by Paleolithic and Es- 
kimo artists was the challenge of minute workman- 
ship. Aivilik Eskimos tell a story of a visiting Japanese 
artist who carved a face on the head of a pin and, 
then, his host carved a face on an eye of the first face. 
The story rings true, if only in principle. Eskimos would 
delight in that challenge. I saw a bear carving so small 
it passed through the sprocket-hole of a 35-millimeter 
film. I own a carving of a man with a child on his shoul- 
ders, so minute it requires optical magnification for iden- 
tification. Modern souvenir carvers, equipped with den- 
tal drills and magnifying glasses, do not even approach 
the work of their ancestors. 

Paleolithic carvers shared this ability. Perhaps they 
softened ivory in urine, the way Eskimos do, or 
wrapped the ivory in wet hides. That helps, a little. But 
mere technical assistance is not enough. What is re- 
quired is skill, the kind that comes with commitment, 
rivalry, and, most important, a community of apprecia- 
tive critics. Paleolithic and Mesolithic engravings are 
often so minute, so detailed, that we need micropho- 
tography to appreciate them. Hard to make, impracti- 
cal to use: a personal challenge. Throughout history, 
few artists sought that challenge. Paleolithic and Es- 
kimo artists did. 

Living Art 

Upper Paleolithic and Eskimo artists also both excelled 
at naturalism. Some Eskimo animal effigies are so real- 
istic that we can distinguish between, for example, a 
red-throated loon and a common loon. This is equally 
true with much of Paleolithic art. Yet verisimilitude is 
rare, and especially rare in tribal art. It was far more 
common in later cultures, beginning with the city-states. 

7 4 

One explanation for optical realism is that pos- 
sessing a likeness confers power over the original. 
Although this is an interesting idea that might have 
some truth in it, I know of no supporting evidence, 
save that Paleolithic images were sometimes used 
as targets. 

Another theory holds that such images were not 
as much life//7ce as they were living. Here, there is 
evidence. Eskimos preferred effigies that were made 
of organic materials: ivory, bone, wood. Eskimo carv- 
ers "released" the forms hidden within these once-liv- 
ing materials. Images were not lifelike in size, of course, 
but alive in spirit. Carvers whispered to the hidden forms, 
then greeted them as they emerged. Did Paleolithic 
carvers share this view? Certain carvings suggest they 
did. Clearly pre-existing forms had their say. "Found 
form," a concept basic to the Eskimo, may have been 
equally favored by Paleolithic peoples. Beneath the Es- 
kimo concept lay the further notion that the carver's 
function was to release, or imbue, the spirit. 

Eskimo effigies often have small inlays in their chests 
or throats. An ivory Dorset bear effigy from Alarnerk 
(fig. 6.40) has a hollow neck with a sliding lid. This 
closed cavity originally contained red ochre. Was that 
ochre designed to bring the bear to life? Inserting a 
"battery" inside a statue in order to animate it was a 
widespread custom in the tribal world. This custom 
survived among the ancient Greeks, who put pharmaka 
(magic-stuff) in hollow statues. 

I think the red ochre in the Alarnerk polar bear 
carving was "magic stuff." When Australian Aborigines 
incised a stone churinga, an "ancestral image," and then 
dusted it with ochre, they said the ancestor "bled." 
What bleeds, lives. Paleolithic artists ochre-dusted im- 
ages engraved on flat stones. It is possible that the 
ancient custom of dusting the dead with red ochre 
had the same purpose: to animate. 

Two-Dimensional Art 

Eskimos engraved minute, realistic silhouettes on bow- 
drills and other flat surfaces. For years, these were 
dismissed as Western-inspired. But then, prehistoric 


examples were recognized. Some showed 
complex "scenes" and many were "framed." 
By contrast, Paleolithic art lacked borders. Con- 
ceivably, Eskimo borders derived from some 
later, probably Asian, tradition. 

Borders aside, what is important here is the 
naturalism. A 1912 Eskimo pencil drawing of 
a caribou with its head turned back (fig. 6.41 ) 
could grace a cave wall in Paleolithic France. 
Both Paleolithic and Eskimo artists employed 
this silhouette technique. Both simulated depth 
by leaving a gap between an animal's body 
and its far legs. And both sometimes depicted 
herds by using the "stutter" technique of par- 
allel profiles. 

Human Faces 

Naturalism in Paleolithic art rarely extended to 
human images. Most heads were missing or 
crude or abstract, with no facial features. There 
is one rare exception (fig. 6.43) from the late 
Paleolithic site of Malta in central Siberia; in 
spite of its minute size, this head has a won- 
derfully naturalistic face, even to the addition 
of scalp holes presumably intended for hair 
inlays, much like later examples from the Bering 
Sea area. In other words, Paleolithic artists, 
when they chose to do so (which was not 
often), could render a good human likeness. 

Exactly the same can be said of Eskimo artists. Faces 
were generally left blank or stylized with tattoos or 
even masked. Yet the earliest known human image 
from the Canadian Arctic (fig. 6.42) is near-portraiture. 
It comes from a Pre-Dorset Paleoeskimo site (ca. 1 900- 
1 600 B.C.). Clearly, early Eskimo carvers, like their Pale- 
olithic predecessors, could render a good human like- 
ness when they chose to do so. Most chose not to do 
so. The Okvik artist who carved the image in Figure 
6.44, although immensely skilled, hid the face be- 
hind a mask, which resembled leather examples worn 
by nineteenth-century Hudson Bay Eskimos. 

6.35 through 6.44/ Tecti forms (35-39), living art (40), 
naturalism (4 1), and human face (42-44) motifs are all seen 
in Eskimo art. 

Everyday Art 

Several Canadian archaeologists have recently sought 
to explain why so many Dorset effigies lay abandoned 
in middens, unbroken. These were, we were told, amu- 
lets or phylacteries, discarded like broken watches or 
computers when their powers failed or faded (e.g., 
McGhee 1985). Since most of the surviving examples 
came from Terminal Dorset, we were further invited to 
believe that art proliferated at dusk— in a failed attempt 
to avert the demise of Dorset culture. In short, art was 
asked to justify its existence by performing some 
nonartistic service. 


Amulets attached to garments, kayaks, and bags 
were often simply beast-parts, scraps of dead animals. 
Their magical powers did not depend on workman- 
ship. Nothing religious required that amulets be ex- 
quisitely carved, just as nothing practical required that 
clothing be beautiful. Yet both were. 

Many Dorset effigies show no means of attach- 
ment, no marks of use, and no obvious function. I 
suspect they had no function other than being. Es- 
kimo art was an act, not an object, a verbnot a noun. 
Carving was like singing: those who felt a song 
within, sang; those who sensed a form emerging from 
ivory, released it. Carvings were passed around, en- 
joyed, and discarded. Many lie in middens, undam- 
aged and unused. 

Critics who supply Eskimo art with excuses for 
being assure us that Dorset art was the handmaiden 
of shamanism. I doubt that. Shamanism was a special- 
ized ritual, not to be confused with general belief. Sha- 
mans had professional gear, unique in form, and lim- 
ited in number: drums, sucking-tubes, belts, fake teeth, 
coat-dangles, etc. This paraphernalia never constituted 
more than a tiny fraction of the total ensemble of Es- 
kimo carvings. 

Most Eskimo art belonged to the workaday. What 
I love most about it is its optimism. People who lav- 
ished care on a scraper or a wound-plug clearly re- 
garded life as worth living. Common tools became 
works of uncommon beauty. 

Visual Puns and Humor 

Eskimo carvings often combined images of different 
creatures. These creatures should not mislead us. Not 
all of them depicted a World Apart. Puns, like nick- 
names, were a part of Eskimo daily life— the more bi- 
zarre, the better. When Eskimos chose to represent 
nature optically, they did so with great accuracy. On 
other occasions, they added lore or humor. Animals 
acquired anthropomorphic qualities; humans acquired 
zoomorphic qualities. Art became a playground for 
joyous pranksters. 

Paleolithic artists enjoyed similar jokes. Remember 
those Magdalenian spear-throwers, each with a carved 
ibex whose head turned back to observe a bird sitting 
on a turd emerging from its anus? There is even one 
example of two birds "kissing" on such a turd. Eskimos 
would love that carving. 

Discontinuous Continuity 

For millennia, Eskimo artists absorbed ideas and styles 
from various sources. Fads came and went. Asian 
metal-age cultures introduced a death cult, mortuary 
art, professional carvers, joint-marks, animal enroulee, 
cheek-plugs, the nucleated circle with spur, and much 
more. Most of all, they introduced a metal-engraver's 
flat art. Eskimos wrapped that art around three-dimen- 
sional ivory objects, tattoo fashion, to create Okvik 
and Old Bering Sea art. 

That art delights us. But Paleolithic traditions proved 
tenacious. They did not come from outside but sur- 
vived from within, transmitted by act and words from 
mother to daughter, father to son. The ideas behind 
them, even the forms those ideas took, survived intact 
until yesterday, and nowhere more strongly than in 
the Arctic. 

Yet, vast gaps occur. Some arise from incomplete 
evidence. Other gaps may be real. The inverted-female 
pendant, first seen in the European Paleolithic and later 
in the Siberian Paleolithic, reappears in Late Eskimo times. 
"Toothed stitching" appears in Paleolithic Europe, re- 
surfaces among Pre-Dorset peoples, and then fades 
from view until Thule times and later. Where were these 
motifs during these long intervals? 

Ultimately, all of these forms came from Paleolithic 
Europe. More immediately, they came from northern 
Asia. From there, migrants took them east to Greenland 
and southeast to Oceania. Exactly when, we do not 
know. But whenever it was, those motifs by then were 
already ancient and had long ceased to be the exclu- 
sive property of any single tribe or culture. 

It is ironic that the most recent newcomers into 
the Canadian Arctic, the Thule people, brought with 


them some of the oldest traditions: "toothed stitch- 
ing," featureless faces, and inverted, steatopygous fe- 
male pendants, among others. All of these motifs en- 
joyed a renewed popularity. Like smoldering embers, 
they burst back to life. 

What goes out of sight need not go out of mind. 
Even when motifs faded from view, their mental under- 
pinnings often remained in place. A symmetry of silent 
assumptions underlay each. "Toothed stitching" came 
from heraldic, mosaic garments. These continued to 
be made. Inverted effigies reflected a belief in an in- 
verted After World. That belief remained widely popu- 
lar among traditionalists. Surely, such underpinnings 
made it easier for these motifs to stay alive, even to re- 
blossom here and there, like seeds in fertile soil. 

In trying to explain this phenomenon, it helps to 
recall the central role of memory in tribal societies, es- 
pecially in isolated Arctic societies. Life expectancy 
was short. Survival depended on knowledge. Knowl- 
edge and wisdom depended on elders, who were few 
in number. A group of McKenzie River Eskimos, in com- 
paratively recent times, migrated to northern Greenland 
and lived there in isolation until 1818. They became 
known as the Polar Eskimos. There is no reason to be- 
lieve they lacked bows or kayaks when they began 
their migration. But in 1818, although they vaguely 
remembered both, they possessed neither. Did trag- 
edy mark that migration? How old were its survivors? 

"Come, sit beside me. Do as I do," says the seam- 
stress to her little daughter. "Watch me," says the hunter 
to his son. Living people are traditions' safest reposito- 
ries. They are the great preservers. And preserve, the 
Eskimos did, so successfully that we can trace a 
memory link through their art back to Paleolithic times. 


1. All but six of the specimens illustrated in 
this chapter, along with many other examples, are 
published in Carl Schuster's and Edmund Carpen- 

ter's (1986-1988) multi-volume set, Materials for 
the Study of Social Symbolism in Ancient and Tribal 
Art, Rock Foundation, New York and were drawn 
by Kathleen Kitsos. The figures in this chapter can 
be found at: 

(1) vol 3:3, p. 465; (2) vol 3:3, p. 468 (3) vol 
3:3, p. 466; (4) vol 3:3, p. 466; (5) vol 3:3, p. 
459; (6) vol 3:3, p. 458; (7) vol 3:3, p. 459; 
(8) vol 3:3, p. 462 (9) vol 3:3, p. 463; (1 0) vol 
3:3, p: 475, (1 1 ) vol 3:3, p. 484; (1 2) vol 3:3, 
p. 465; (1 3) vol 3:3, p. 477; (14) vol 3:3, p. 
480; (1 5) vol 3:3, p. 480; (1 6) vol 3:3, p. 482; 
(1 7) vol 3:3, p. 584; (1 8) vol 3:3, p. 585; (1 9) 
vol 3:3, p. 583; (20) vol 3:3, p. 583; (21) vol 
3:3, p. 528; (22) vol 3:3, p. 607; (23) vol 3:3, 
p. 609; (24) vol 2:4, p. 901 ; (25) vol 1 :2, p. 
660; (26) vol 2:5, p. 1150; (27) vol 1:1, p. 
322; (28) vol 2:3, p. 651 ; (29) vol 2:3, p. 651 ; 
(32) vol 3:3, p. 560; (33) vol 3:3, p. 558; (34) 
vol 3:3, p. 559; (35) vol 2:2, p. 506; (36) vol 
2:5, p. 1268; (37) vol 2:5, p. 1268; (38) vol 
2:5, p. 1 268; (39) vol 2:5, p. 1 268 

The six exceptions are: 

30: Engraved ivory specimen from Khotylevo 
2, Briansk, Russia. After F.M. Zavernyayav, "Une 
nouvelle station du Paleo-lithique superier sur 
la Desna" (in Russian), Sovietskya Arkheologuia 
4, 1974, Moscow. 

31 : Engraved needlecase, Pre-Dorset site near 
Igloolik, Canada, circa 2000-1 900B.C. Ht: 7.2 
cm. After Jorgen Meldgaard, "Eet folk gennem 
4500 ar?", Qeqertasussuk: De forste mennesker 
i Vestgronland, Qasigiannguit Museum, 1900: 
1 14-1 16. 

41 : Robert Flaherty, Drawings by Enooesweetok 
of the Sikosilingmint Tribe, Fox Land, Baffin Is- 
land, 1 91 5, Toronto. 

42: After James W. Helmer, "A Face from the 
Past: An early Pre-Dorset Ivory Maskette from 
Devon Island, N.W.T," Etudes/ 1 nuit/ Studies, 1 0, 
(1-2):1 79-202, fig. 3, 1986, Montreal. 

43: Ivory figurine, Malta site, Siberia. After pho- 
tograph by Alexander Marshack. See Henri 
Delporte, L'image de la femme dans Tart 
prehistorique, 1 993, p. 1 99, fig. 24. 

44: Okvik ivory figure, Punuk Islands, Alaska. 
Ht. 1 1cm. Menil Collection, A8468, Houston. 


[Danish /\rct\c /\rchaeo!ogij f^rom the p\pya 
Society for Northern /^nticjuities to the 
irth I nule j xpedition 


In this chapter, we outline the beginnings of Danish 
Arctic archaeology as it was reflected in the initiatives 
of scientific committees of the nineteenth century, 
which were formed mainly to organize and collect in- 
formation on Danish prehistory. We demonstrate how 
an understanding of the Danish past, in terms of the 
scientific description of the stratigraphy of peat bogs 
and human deposits, was expanded during now-for- 
gotten comparative investigations of middens in 
Greenland. One result of those early excavations in the 
lowest parts of middens was the recognition that an- 
cient Greenlanders had used stone tools exclusively. 
By the end of the century, however, this recognition 
had faded away. The scientific view of Greenland's 
past, in comparison to the Danish Mesolithic, was that 
Greenland was an ethnographic isolate, comparable 
to other remote areas of the globe. 

When systematic Danish archaeology was initiated 
in the Arctic in the 1 920s with the Fifth Thule Expedi- 
tion, it relied heavily on a methodology steeped in the 
natural sciences. At the same time, it neglected the 
knowledge that had been gained in the previous cen- 
tury about the existence of a stone age culture in Arc- 
tic Greenland. Nevertheless, the results of that expedi- 
tion were important to our understanding of the Arc- 
tic, and we end our chapter with a description of those 
Danish research efforts in Canada. During his archaeo- 
logical excavations in Greenland between 1 929 and 
1934, while expanding his systematic work on the 
Thule culture, Therkel Mathiassen also "pushed the 

Paleoeskimos out in the cold" and his processual rea- 
soning about living and non-living resource exploita- 
tion (Mathiassen 1927a:l 58ff) became a cue for later 
Pre-Thule research. 

Infancy of Arctic Archaeology 

In 1 824, a small collection of artifacts from Greenland 
arrived at the Museum of Northern Antiquities in 
Copenhagen. It included a small runic stone from the 
Upernavik district and other objects, some of which 
were of stone (Rosenkrantz 1 967). The collection was 
incorporated into the Museum, which was then under 
the directorship of C.J. Thomsen (1 788-1 865), the "fa- 
ther" of the three-period system (Stone, Bronze, and 
Iron ages). In 1816, Thomsen had been appointed Sec- 
retary of the Antiquities Commission, which had been 
responsible for the Museum (later the National Museum) 
since its foundation in 1 807. 

A description of the runic stone was published in 
1 827 (Rosenkrantz 1 967) and Thomsen, as a member 
of the Royal Society for Northern Antiquities, which 
had been established in 1825, inspired the Society's 

7 9 

members to extend their interest to Eskimo prehistory. 
Between 1 832 and 1 841 , the Society sent out letters 
urging government officials in Greenland to undertake 
excursions and searches for antiquities. Their first prior- 
ity was the collection of Norse antiquities. At their meet- 
ings, the Society's members discussed artifacts from 
Nordic countries and North America, publishing their 
accounts in the Society's journal, Annals of Northern 
Antiquity, which had started in 1831. In the second 
volume (1 833), the journal recounts the first meeting 
at which old "Eskimo artifacts" were presented. 

A report on the first large collection of Eskimo arti- 
facts, however, was presented to the Society in 1 838. 
The collection consisted of stone objects, all of which 
had been found in abandoned houses a quarter of a 
mile from Jakobshavn, i.e., Saqqaq artifacts from 
Sermermiut in Disko Bay. Another presentation on a 
similar collection was made in 1843, when the 
Society's secretary, Christian Pingel, reported on 
stone artifacts. A geologist, Pingel had a special inter- 
est in raw materials and techniques, and he went into 
detail in his report with examples of "arrowpoints of 
dark-green chalcedony, finely indented on both edges 
. . . [and] utensils of angmaq, the collective term used 
by the Greenlanders for various stone materials, all of 
which seem to originate in little-known formations of 
the clay-slate layers in North West Greenland" (Meld- 
gaard 1 996). 

That same year, 1 843, the Society also established 
the Museum Americanum, Cabinet of American 
Antiquities, which was designed to house artifacts from 
the North American mainland. After announcing this 
initiative to its members in America, the Society began 
to receive more packages of artifacts during the next 
few years. The invitation to American members pre- 
sumably had been inspired by the arrival of a particu- 
larly interesting package from Boston with an artifact 
that had been discovered some years earlier in 1 831 . 
This package contained fragments of a coat of mail 
found in the grave of a man of great height and— 
according to medical evidence— with a "non-Indian" 


skull type. The find, which came from near Fall River in 
Massachusetts, only 30 km north of the round New- 
port Tower, was interpreted as a significant Scandina- 
vian relic from the Norse "Vinland." Henry Wadsworth 
Longfellow, then a young literary historian from Harvard 
touring Europe in 1831-1832, met with the Society's 
secretary, C. C. Raffn, in Copenhagen. Raffn asked him 
about the possibility of Viking remains in New England. 
They kept in touch, and later Longfellow learned that 
an analysis of the "bronze-armor" found in the Fall River 
grave showed that the skeleton was a Scandinavian 
Viking! Longfellow related the story of the Viking's 
voyage across the ocean to Vinland and then to his 
Fall River grave in his poem "The Skeleton in Armour" 
(Meldgaard 1993). 

The "skeleton in armour" specimen and other arti- 
facts from the Museum Americanum were later trans- 
ferred to the Museum of Northern Antiquities. Begin- 
ning in 1 85 5, they were housed in the building where 
the Royal Ethnographic Museum had opened its col- 
lections to the public in 1 849. From 1 866, when J. J. A. 
Worsaae (1821-85) succeeded Thomsen as director 
of the Museum of Northern Antiquities and the Ethno- 
graphic Museum, to the present, the find has been 
stored on a shelf in the Amerindian section of the Eth- 
nographic Museum— now as the remains of an Indian 
warrior. Worsaae arranged the archaeological collec- 
tions of the Ethnographic Museum as a counterpart to 
the Museum of Northern Antiquities, and the rest of 
the collections as comparative material for archaeol- 
ogy. The collection of ethnographic objects almost 
ceased, and Thomsen's international contacts were 
broken off (Lundbaek 1 988:1 75). 

As interest in curiosities declined, Danish archae- 
ologists, led by Worsaae, took a more scientific ap- 
proach, studying the relationships between different 
sites and stratigraphic units and the artifacts found in 
them. The initiative for this came from a newly estab- 
lished committee called the Kitchen Midden Commit- 
tee, which introduced the method of stratigraphic in- 
vestigations into Greenlandic archaeology. 


The Kitchen Midden Committee 

In the 1 830s, the zoologistjapetus Steenstrup's (1 81 3- 
97) fundamental stratigraphic studies of Danish peat 
bogs demonstrated, through the analysis of faunal and 
floral remains from various layers, that nature had un- 
dergone a process of evolution. This work showed 
that the peat bogs were veritable "archives" of Danish 
prehistory, and it became the basis of Danish peat 
bog research, which subsequently grew into a fruitful 
collaboration with the fields of geology, botany, zool- 
ogy, and archaeology. In 1 848, Steenstrup initiated 
the so-called Kitchen Midden Committee, whose three 
members— geologist Professor Forchhammer, archae- 
ologist Worsaae, and Steenstrup— were appointed by 
the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters. 
The committee's task was to determine whether the 
shell heaps that contained scattered occurrences of 
animal bones and flint tools along the Danish coasts 
were natural deposits, i.e., raised layers of shells, or 
whether they were the results of human activity. The 
committee's excavations confirmed that they were 
culturally formed, resulting in a great step forward in 
archaeological and Quaternary-zoological research 
(Aaris-Sorensen 1 988:1 8ff). 

In the 1 860s, Steenstrup and Worsaae disagreed 
over the formation and period of the peat bog middens. 
Unlike Worsaae, Steenstrup supported the theory that 
the middens were a universal cultural phenomenon and 
believed that this idea could be backed up by evi- 
dence from middens in Greenland. Requests for infor- 
mation were sent to colonists in Greenland, and in the 
1 870s reports from Disko Bay and Nuuk/Godthab 
began to reach the Zoological Museum. 

In 1 871 , Carl Fleisher, the local factor in Claushavn 
and an uncle of Knud Rasmussen, carried out excava- 
tions at the almost-inaccessible site of Qajaa injakobs- 
havn Ice Fjord and carefully described the midden 
stratigraphy. He sent Steenstrup boxes of artifacts and 
animal bones and a report that began: 

It is a bad thing up here in Greenland that the 
soil is frozen all summer when you dig down 


. . . but I do hope this stuff will be of some 
use to you. I have made every effort, but it is 
a difficult thing to collect bones when you 
do not know if they are of importance. 

Fleisher's report featured an astonishing and de- 
tailed description of the stratigraphy, starting with the 
bottom layers of bones and stone artifacts, then by a 
sterile layer of peat, and followed by an upper midden 
that contained no stone tools. His analysis of the bone 
material from various layers indicated that during cer- 
tain periods the Ice Fjord had been "less filled up with 
ice" and that "the bottom layers represent a period 
when the old Greenlanders used stone only," indicat- 
ing that there had been a stone age culture in Greenland 
before the beginning of the use of iron. Steenstrup made 
good use of the Greenland material, discussing it in 
lectures on the Younger and Older Kitchen Middens in 
Greenland he gave in Denmark and abroad in 1 872, 
but he failed to mention Carl Fleisher and the Green- 
landers who provided him with the material and with 
their thought-provoking comments (Meldgaard 1 996). 

Another contributor to the Greenland midden de- 
bate was Lars Moller, a well-known printer and editor 
in Godthab. The material and report he sent to 
Steenstrup are in the Zoological Museum archives, 
where they were found in 1 986 by Morten Meldgaard. 
Moller's report describes his 1874 excavations at 
Kangeq and lllorpaat on Hope Island; it also indicates 
that he was shipping (in 1 875) boxes of "samples of 
the upper and lower layers of the middens" to 
Copenhagen. His report contains a great amount of 
detail about the special way he handled and packed 
the samples from the 4-foot-deep midden at lllorpaat; 
he writes that, "in the box you will find it just as it was 
when taken from the soil, i.e. with the uppermost lay- 
ers in the upper part of the box and the lowermost 
beneath." He followed the same procedure with the 8- 
foot-deep midden at Kangeq. 

Although Fleisher's and Moller's research was sub- 
sequently forgotten, and their reports were hidden away 
in archives for more than a hundred years, Steenstrup 
was able to prove his theory that the middens were, in 

8 I 

fact, a universal phenomenon and not restricted to 
certain periods and peoples. The results of stratigraphic 
excavations did not lead Danish archaeologists to 
speculate any further about the time-depth of Green- 
landic middens, although the investigations, in fact, 
had been undertaken to test a phenomenon in Danish 
prehistory and the stone artifacts described were simi- 
lar to those of the Danish Mesolithic. Not until the 1 970s 
and 80s could archaeologists confirm the observations 
and conclusions of these early investigators in Greenland 
(Gullov and Kapel 1979-80, 1988; Meldgaard 1983, 
1991 ; Mohl 1986). 

Among the officials who continued to collect arti- 
facts in Greenland, encouraged by the initiatives of the 
Royal Society for Northern Antiquities, was C. G. F. 
Pfaff, a physician in Jakobshavn from 1854 to 1876. 
His interest in prehistory stemmed from his purchase, 
from local Greenlanders in the Disko Bay area, of a 
large collection of artifacts taken from graves and ex- 
cavations. Pfaff systematically arranged the artifacts 
on boards according to their function and material. 
When he retired and returned to Denmark, he tried to 
donate his collection to the National Museum, but the 
director, Sophus Muller, was not interested in it, seeing 
it only as comparative material for the Danish collec- 
tion and noting that "we already have a lot of this 
stuff' (Westman andjakobsson 1989). Eventually, the 
Ethnographic Museum in Stockholm acquired Pfaff s 
important collection, and today it is housed in the 
Center for Arctic Cultural Research at Umea University 
(Westman andjakobsson 1989). 

Parts of the Pfaff collection were described in 1 904 
(Swenander 1 906) and again in 1 907 by the Norwe- 
gian historian and geographer Ole Solberg (1907), 
whose study of the stone age in Greenland was in- 
spired by a newly discovered Norse source, Historia 
Norvegiae, which alluded to conflicts between the early 
Norse settlers and stone age peoples. In his work, 
Solberg mentioned the Pfaff collection in Stockholm 
along with his studies of stone artifact collections in 
Oslo and Copenhagen. Solberg's (1907) conclusion— 

8 2 

that a stone age culture had existed in West Greenland, 
with a core area around Disko Bay, some of it extend- 
ing far into the past, i.e., to before A.D. 1 000— how- 
ever, had little impact on Danish scholars. 

A New Era 

In 1 878, a Commission for Scientific Research was es- 
tablished to conduct geographical and geological 
explorations in Greenland. Its expeditions were often 
led by naval officers, who were also given charge of 
the archaeology. From 1 884, when Europeans first met 
the East Greenlanders in Ammassalik, to 1912, when 
Ejnar Mikkelsen returned from his Alabama Expedition, 
the Commission's first priority was the exploration of 
East Greenland. 

The world in general was fascinated by the fact 
that an Eskimo population, which had been encoun- 
tered by Captain Clavering in 1 823, still existed north 
of Ammassalik. During the first expeditions to this re- 
gion, native Greenlanders were assigned to the crew 
in the event that it should encounter new groups. 
These expeditions— the Scoresby Sound Expedition 
in 1 891 -1 892, the East Greenland Expedition to the 
Ammassalik district and the Blosseville coast inl 898- 
1900, and the Denmark Expedition to North East 
Greenland in 1 906-1 908— produced the first scientifi- 
cally described archaeological collections from house 
ruins and graves (Ryder 1 895; Thalbitzer 1 909; Thomsen 
1917; Thostrup 191 1). 

Researchers studying the collections from these 
expeditions concluded that an Eskimo culture, which 
was comparable to the one demonstrated by similar 
finds from Canada and Alaska, existed in Greenland. In 
addition, discussions on Eskimo migration routes in- 
side and outside Greenland emerged, focusing on the 
origins of Eskimo culture, as the geographer H. P. 
Steensby (1 875-1 920) had postulated on the basis of 
deductions from ethnographic data (the so-called 
anthropogeographical method). 

Although more than twenty years passed before 
Greenland was again investigated archaeologically, 


7. // Knud Rasmussen, nephew of Carl Fleisher ("my learned uncle 
Carl"), and leader of the Fifth Thule Expedition 

major inroads were made on the ethnography of the 
Eskimo culture with the work of Knud Rasmussen (fig. 
7.1 ). In 1 909, Rasmussen outlined an ambitious research 
plan, entitled "Proposal for a Danish Ethnographic Ex- 
pedition to the Central Eskimos," which was designed 
to investigate the homogeneity and origins of the Es- 
kimo culture. Four other expeditions, partly financed 
by the fur trade income of the Thule Station, however, 
were planned and completed before Rasmussen 
could launch the Fifth Thule Expedition in 1921 
(Mathiassen 1945). 

Fifth Thule Expedition to the Central Es- 
kimos, 1921-1924 

Seventy years have passed since the last members of 
the Danish expedition to the North American Arctic 
returned to Denmark. For scientists the world over who 
use the inexhaustible material collected during the ex- 
pedition, it still stands as a milestone in Arctic research, 
but the circumstances under which the expedition op- 
erated have mostly been forgotten. 

We would like to describe the efforts of those few 
people who brought new knowledge to the sciences 
and humanities, using such simple means as notebooks, 
spades, tape measures, cameras— and dog sledges. 
Although they have all passed away, born as they were 

in the nineteenth century, their pioneering 
work in the fields of archaeology, anthro- 
pology, and ethnography had far-reach- 
ing consequences for the understanding 
of the Arctic and its peoples (de Laguna 

From the beginning, the expedition 
was planned as a continuation of Ras- 
mussen's work in Greenland, where he had 
collected myths and tales and studied 
customs and usage. New questions were 
added: the origins of the Greenlanders, 
and the development and adaptation of 
Eskimo culture in the enormous and var- 
ied geographical regions between 
Canada and Alaska. To address these questions, 
Rasmussen had to combine research in archaeology 
and ethnography with the study of geography and 
natural history. 

Despite the large scale of research, Rasmussen (born 
1 879) had to limit the number of participants ensuring 
that each member, in addition to general talents, had 
a broad range of specializations. His friend and com- 
panion of many years, Peter Freuchen (born 1 886) was 
a natural choice. He had fifteen years of experience in 
arctic research and had long been in charge of the 
Thule Station. 

Therkel Mathiassen (born 1 892) was chosen as ar- 
chaeologist and cartographer. Rasmussen found him 
far from Copenhagen, in Jutland, where he worked as a 
secondary school teacher. Mathiassen's research on 
the Danish Mesolithic peat bog culture, based on ex- 
cavations with his friend, the geologist Lauge Koch, 
had been refused publication by the Royal Society of 
Northern Antiquities. His application for a post in the 
Department of Danish Prehistory at the National Mu- 
seum had been rejected by the director Sophus Muller, 
who claimed that he could see no connection between 
Mathiassen's university degree in geography and 
natural history and a position as museum curator. Thus, 
Mathiassen, who had recently been married, was forced 


7.2/ Map of the Fifth Thule Expedition 

to find another occupation. It was to Rasmussen's 
great credit that he could see beyond the qualities of 
an academic or professional "nobody." His choice of 
Mathiassen as the expedition's archaeologist also 
meant that the methods developed by Steenstrup 
and Worsaae would be reintroduced into arctic re- 

Kaj Birket-Smith (born 1 893) was selected as eth- 
nographer and geographer. He had completed two 
expeditions to Greenland and had finished a compre- 
hensive comparative study of the Greenland collec- 
tions at the National Museum's Department of Ethnog- 
raphy with material from his 1918 fieldwork in the 
Egedesminde district (Birket-Smith 1 924). Trained in 
the same subjects as Mathiassen and employed by 
the recently independent (since 1 920) department, he 
represented the National Museum on the expedition. 
Several other Danish members also participated, in- 
cluding Rasmussen's assistant Helge Bangsted and, 
from 1923 onwards, cameraman Leo Hansen who 
joined him on the sledge journey from Coronation Gulf 
to the Bering Strait. 

Seven Greenlanders also participated in the expe- 
dition. They were the West Greenlander Jacob Olsen, 
who served as interpreter and secretary (valuable in 
both archaeology and ethnography), and the Polar Es- 
kimos Arqioq and his wife Arnanguaq; Nasaitdlors- 
suarssuk and his wife Aqatsaq; the widow Arnaru- 
lunguaq; and the young hunter Qavigarssuaq. 

In 1921, the expedition's Danish members left 
Copenhagen on board the steamer Bele in the com- 
pany of a select group of ecclesiastical authorities 
bound for Godthab to attend the celebrations honor- 
ing the arrival of the missionary Hans Egede in 1 721 . 
Several weeks earlier the expedition's schooner 
Sokongen had left Denmark. A third ship, which also 
became important for the course of the expedition 
(fig. 7.2), was the steamer Iceland, also bound for the 
festivities in Godthab with the Danish King and the 
Royal Family on board. 

From Godthab, the Bele sailed northward along the 
west coast of Greenland with, among others, Birket- 
Smith and Mathiassen. One foggy morning between 
Uummannaq and Upernavik, the ship met her fate on a 


submerged reef. The passengers and crew escaped to 
a little desert island but had to leave the equipment 
on board. The King's ship and Sokongen saved the ship- 
wrecked travelers, but all of the expedition's equip- 
ment had been lost. Over the Iceland's telegraph, 
Rasmussen asked for replacements to be sent to 
Godthab with the first ship. 

Rasmussen refused to give up his plans, and the 
Sokongen continued northward toThule, where the Polar 
Eskimos came aboard with seventy sledge dogs. As 
they sailed back to Godthab, new misfortunes struck. 
Peter Freuchen's wife, Navarana, died of pneumonia in 
Upernavik, and later one of the Polar Eskimos suc- 
cumbed to the Spanish flu. 

In late September, five months after leaving 
Copenhagen, the expedition finally reached its field of 
work in spite of engine failures and heavy pack ice in 
the Hudson Strait. On a small island called Danish Is- 
land, it built an expedition house from materials origi- 
nally meant for the wooden provisions shed. "The Bel- 
lows" was to be home base for the next two years. 

In December, expedition members met Eskimos for 
the first time. Rasmussen recounted this event: 

Three or four miles ahead a line of black 
objects stood out against the ice of the 
fjord. I got out my glass; it might, after all, be 
only a reef of rock. But the glass showed 
plainly a whole line of sledges with their 
teams, halted to watch the traveller ap- 
proaching from the South. One man de- 
tached himself from the party and came 
running across the ice in a direction that 
would bring him athwart my course. . . 
Without waiting for my companions to 
come up, I sprang to the sledge, and urged 
on the dogs, pointing out the runner as one 
would a quarry in the chase . . . Stand still! I 
cried; and, taking a flying leap out among 
the dogs, embraced the stranger after the 
Eskimo fashion. . . I had yelled at the dogs 
in the language of the Greenland Eskimo. 
And, from the expression of the stranger's 
face, in a flash I realized that he had 
understood what I said. He was a tall, well- 
built fellow, with face and hair covered 
with rime, and large, gleaming white teeth 
showing, as he stood smiling and gasping, 
still breathless with exertion and excite- 
ment. It had all come about in a moment,— 
and here we were! (Rasmussen 1927:3-4). 

The scientific work got started. At first, expedition 
members made short sledge trips from Danish Island 
to their closest neighbors, a group of about 1 00 Eski- 
mos who moved along a 500-kilometer stretch of the 
coast. Then, coordinated by Rasmussen, the members 
branched out. The most promising fields for archaeo- 
logical work were expected to be found north along 
the Melville Peninsula and on northern Baffin Island, the 
least-known stretches of the coast. Of greatest impor- 
tance to the ethnographic work were the inland Eski- 
mos of the Barren Grounds to the southwest. Rasmussen 
worked among these peoples in 1 922 and Birket-Smith 
during two periods in 1922 and 1923. 

In January and February 1922, Birket-Smith and 
Jacob Olsen sledged southward to Chesterfield Inlet 
and Baker Lake, followed by Rasmussen and Bangsted 
in March. Along the Kazan River they met the 
Harvaqtormiut, "the people of the river whirlpools," of 
whose existence they had been unaware. Although 
the native men had encountered white men during 
journeys to the newly established Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany trading post at Baker Lake, the women and chil- 
dren found the white men new and mysterious crea- 
tures. The expedition team spent the summer among 
the largest of these groups, the Paallimiut, "the people 
of the willows" near Hikoligjuaq Lake, documenting 
their material culture and recording their myths, po- 
ems, and tales. Little by little, Birket-Smith gained an 
understanding of the exceptional status of these in- 
land Eskimos compared with other known Eskimo 
groups. Named generically Caribou Eskimos, they be- 
came the central focus of ethnographers and 
Eskimologists during the next few decades in discus- 
sions of the origin and evolution of Eskimo culture. 
Birket-Smith believed that these Eskimos, who had no 
knowledge of the sea or of the hunting of sea mam- 
mals but relied instead entirely on caribou for their nu- 
trition, were survivors of an old Proto-Eskimo stage 
(Birket-Smith 1929, 5:232). The results of his studies 
were published with Rasmussen in three volumes (Birket- 
Smith 1929; K. Rasmussen 1930a, 1930b). 


At the same time, in February 1922, Mathiassen, 
Freuchen, Arqioq, and Arnanguaq traveled northward 
by sledge. While snow covered the ground, their main 
tasks were cartography, geology, and ethnography. 
For the first 500 kilometers, they followed a route di- 
rectly to Iglulik, encountering bad weather, with snow 
blowing from the north and temperatures hovering 
between minus 40 and 50 degrees Celsius. The dogs 
were in poor condition, and their food had to be ra- 
tioned. Under these conditions, Mathiassen preferred 
to walk, setting out in the early morning before camp 
had been dismantled, being overtaken by the sleds 
around noon, and reaching the next camp after the 
snow house had been built. He described his routine 
matter-of-factly: "this gave me an opportunity to make 
detours and investigate geological formations, Eskimo 
ruins, etc., and to do collections of different kinds. . ." 

Thirty-two years after Matthiassen's journey, one 
of the authors (Meldgaard), with Matthiassen's report 
in hand, followed in his footsteps, walking along a lim- 
ited part of the route during the relatively pleasant 
summer months. It was absolutely amazing to note 
the amount of reliable information that he had col- 
lected during his walk in the snow and the cold. 

The Eskimos, too, were impressed and a little awed 
by Mathiassen. Thirty-two years later, the older ones 
remembered him as the tall man who asked about 
remains of the old Tunit people. They had thought he 
was one of their descendants, and perhaps an avenger. 
Like the Tunnit, Mathiassen traveled without dogs and 
was tall and strong. Freuchen, too, was by no means 
undersized. The two of them made a profound im- 
pression on the Eskimos— and created new myths. 

Mathiassen reached Iglulik in April. The expedition 
stayed there for a few days, long enough for Mathiassen 
to collect some objects and write in his diary. These 
diary notes later formed the main source of informa- 
tion for his monograph on the material culture of the 
Iglulik Eskimos (Mathiassen 1 928). After leaving Iglulik, 
Mathiassen and Freuchen went separate ways to map 
and study the geography of northern Baffin Island. 

8 6 

Freuchen traveled northwest along the coast until he 
was forced to return to Iglulik, while Mathiassen 
crossed the island to Admiralty Inlet before return- 
ing to meet Freuchen. Together, they mapped several 
hundred kilometers of the coastline and assigned Dan- 
ish place-names to numerous islands, forelands, and 
lakes. They reached Danish Island during a blizzard at 
the end of May. 

Mathiassen began archaeological excavations that 
summer. The most extensive took place at the site of 
Naujan in Repulse Bay over the course of two months. 
He excavated twelve old house ruins and recovered 
about 3,000 artifacts, to which he devoted the bulk 
of his voluminous treatise on the archaeology of the 
Central Eskimos (Mathiassen 1927b). Mathiassen con- 
cluded that the site had been inhabited by a thou- 
sand-year-old culture that had subsisted on whaling. 
He introduced the appellation "Thule culture" since finds 
belonging to a similar culture had been found at Thule 
in Greenland during Rasmussen's Second Thule Expe- 
dition. In terms of the origin of the Eskimo culture as a 
whole, he concluded that the Thule culture had mi- 
grated from Alaska to Greenland. His conclusions dif- 
fered from those of Birket-Smith who, on the basis of 
ethnographic information, contended that the Thule 
culture had originated from Protoeskimo culture in the 
Canadian tundra. A fruitful discussion on the subject 
ensued (cf. Birket-Smith 1930; Mathiassen 1930b). 

After finishing their excavations at Naujan in Au- 
gust 1 922, Mathiassen and Olsen traveled to Southamp- 
ton Island to continue their archaeological investiga- 
tions. Although they had planned to stay only for a 
fortnight, because of bad ice conditions in Frozen Strait 
they were forced to remain on the island for six months. 
They lived among a small group of Eskimos, who re- 
garded the uninvited guests with mixed feelings. When 
the Eskimos were afflicted by a serious influenza epi- 
demic that winter, they attributed it to Mathiassen's 
investigations of the graves of their forefathers. Dur- 
ing a sledge journey that winter, bad weather forced 
Freuchen to stay overnight in the open air; he got 


frostbite in his foot, loosing a heel and some toes. As a 
result of this setback, they had to change their plans. 
Freuchen and Bangsted remained on Danish Island for 
another winter while Mathiassen traveled north, this 
time going all the way to Pond Inlet, where he com- 
pleted his excavations in Canada and returned to Den- 
mark in the autumn of 1923. Birket-Smith traveled 
southward to continue his studies among the Caribou 
Eskimos and then returned to Europe. 

In March 1923, Rasmussen left Danish Island to 
begin his long sledge journey westwards, accompa- 
nied by the Polar Eskimos Qavigarssuaq and Arnar- 
ulunguaq. He completed his trip the following Sep- 
tember. At the end of his journey, standing on the 
Asian side of Bering Strait, he recalled the highlights of 
the past years: 

The height on which I stand, and the pure air 
which surrounds me, give me a wide outlook, 
and I see our sledge tracks in the white snow 
out over the edge of the earth's circumfer- 
ence, through the uttermost lands of men to 
the North. I see, as in a mirage, the thousand 
little native villages which gave substance to 
the journey. And I am filled with great joy; 
we have met the great adventure which 
always awaits him who knows to grasp it, 
and that adventure was made up of all our 
manifold experiences among the most 
remarkable people in the world! Slowly we 
have worked our way forward by unbeaten 
tracks, and everywhere we have increased 
our knowledge. How long have those sledge 
journeys been? —counting our road straight 
ahead together with the side excursions up 
inland and out over frozen seas, now hunting 
game, and now seeking out some isolated 
and remote people? Say, 20,000 miles; more 
or less,— nearly the circumference of the 
earth. Yet how little that matters, for it was 
not the distances that meant anything to us. 
(Rasmussen 1927: iv-v) 

Although many scholars in recent years have carried 
out more scientifically sophisticated research, no one 
has ever approached the scope of Rasmussen's ac- 
complishments in terms of the collection of basic eth- 
nographic data on Eskimo groups (cf. Kleivan and Burch 
1 988). His contribution to a better understanding of 
these peoples is a major achievement because of his 

profound insights into the Eskimo language and an 
intuitive feeling for social demeanor. We do not agree 
with Remie (1 988), who claims that Rasmussen's re- 
sults were superficial because of the extensive range 
of his ethnographical work. 

The expedition brought back more than 20,000 
items, which were registered and distributed to Dan- 
ish museums. The largest part of the collection con- 
sisted of 3,1 00 ethnographic and 1 1 ,1 00 archaeologi- 
cal artifacts, along with numerous geological, zoologi- 
cal, and botanical specimens. These objects were item- 
ized in the series Report of the Fifth Thule Expedition, 
1921-24, vols. 1-10, 1927-52, in 32 papers consist- 
ing of more than 5, 500 pages. A fifth of this material is 
based on Mathiassen's archaeological, ethnographic, 
and geographical work. 

One Hundred Years in Retrospect 

During the hundred years between 1 824 and 1 924, 
Danish archaeological research in the Arctic developed 
into an independent discipline— Eskimo archaeology — 
separate from Norse archaeology. Systematic archaeo- 
logical investigations of the Eskimo and Norse cultures 
were initiated in 1921 with the Fifth Thule Expedition 
and the archaeological and historical study of the bur- 
ied Norsemen at Herjolfsnes (Norlund 1 924). 

The Fifth Thule Expedition's main archaeological 
objectives were to investigate the origin and expan- 
sion of the Eskimo culture. Mathiassen resolved the 
issue of origins by defining and describing the Thule 
culture. He did not, however, find any evidence of 
Solberg's stone age culture or of Steensby's Paleo- 
eskimo period in any of his investigations. He wrote 
that neither one had "appeared at any of the excava- 
tions at a total of ten places in the central regions; 
everywhere we find at the bottom of the refuse heaps 
and in the earliest ruins a typical Thule culture, bearing 
in fact a stronger stamp of marine animal hunting the 
deeper we go" (Mathiassen 1927a:200). 

For Mathiassen, the "remains of the stone age 
people" found in Greenland in the 1 870s simply did 


not exist. For years, he refused to recognize what had 
been pointed out to him as pre-Thule artifacts in his 
own collections (de Laguna 1 979). He was convinced 
that the burins were, in fact, boot-creasers splintered 
by use. When he saw the first manuscript describing 
the Greenland Saqqaq collection in 1950, written by 
one of the authors (Meldgaard), Mathiassen said, refer- 
ring to the descriptions of burin types, "You'd better 
return to European archaeology. Burins were not used 
in Greenland— or in North America at all!" (Meldgaard 

Despite some of the failings of his work, Mathiassen 
displayed great foresight in cooperating with local 
populations to conduct his research. To a great ex- 
tent, he used the knowledge of Canadian Inuit and the 
Greenlanders to identify the function of artifacts and 
of the meaning of animal bones that he recovered from 
excavations. He also carefully instructed his native as- 
sistants in the method of stratigraphic excavation. 

Mathiassen's contributions extend to his early stud- 
ies of the present-day use and significance of artifacts, 
dwellings, and structures in the living community (e.g., 
Mathiassen 1 928) and of how these material objects 
could have been incorporated into the archaeological 
record (Mathiassen 1927b). He used these observa- 
tions as an indirect approach toward understanding 
the community of the past, and as a result, success- 
fully contributed to the field of ethnoarchaeology. 

When he continued his archaeological investiga- 
tions in Greenland at the request of the Commission 
for Scientific Research, he used his previous experi- 
ence to guide the scientific work of his assistants. 
These individuals became prominent researchers in 
Arctic prehistory in their own right. They discovered 
new cultural horizons in southern Alaska (Frederica de 
Laguna, his assistant in 1 929); described new cultures 
in northeastern Greenland and Ipiutak (Helge Larsen, 

his assistant in 1 930); and extended our knowledge 
of prehistoric Greenland by defining the late Dorset 
and Ruin Islanders in Thule culture (Erik Holtved, his 
assistant in 1933 and 1 934). In turn, their assistants— 
Eigil Knuth (Larsen's assistant in 1 93 5) and Jergen 
Meldgaard (Knuth's assistant in 1948 and Larsen's in 
1 950)— continued the work in the Eastern Arctic. They 
retrieved the Paleoeskimo culture from archives and 
field, and defined the Independence, Saqqaq, and 
Dorset cultures. 

Our understanding of the prehistory of the Eastern 
Arctic has grown enormously since 1 824, when the 
small collection of artifacts arrived at the Museum of 
Northern Antiquities in Copenhagen. Cultural periods 
covering a thousand of years of human activity have 
been described. Cultural meetings have taken place. 
New social structures and cultural material types have 
been identified. Danish archaeology systematics and 
Thomsen's and Worsaae's work on relative dating and 
typology have become guidelines for European archae- 
ology (Renfrew and Bahn 1 991 :23, 98) and for subse- 
quent fieldwork in the Arctic initiated by Mathiassen 
and continued by his successors. 

We are indebted to our elders in the field and to 
our Inuit participants and friends, who in recent years 
have begun reaping the benefits of archaeology. 
Mathiassen and his assistants brought some 1 00,000 
artifacts from Greenland to the National Museum in 
Copenhagen. This material has now been divided be- 
tween the national museums in Copenhagen and in 
Nuuk, following the 1 984 Agreement on the Transfer 
of Cultural Objects from Denmark to Greenland (Berg- 
lund 1994; Schultz-Lorentzen 1987, 1988). Nunatta 
Katersugaasivia Allagaateqarfialu— the Greenland Na- 
tional Museum and Archives— has itself taken over the 
tasks that previously were the responsibility of the 
National Museum of Denmark. 


/~\nalogtj in the |^th no history of (jreenland 

Learning from the folders 


The use of analogy in archaeology has long served to 
help construct views of past lifeways (Stahl 1 993:235). 
The method remains popular despite criticism that 
analogical reasoning restricts archaeological interpre- 
tation to the existing range of ethnographically ob- 
served behaviors (Wobst 1 978). In the Arctic, the ex- 
treme environmental challenges faced by native 
peoples has been a major basis for justifying the use 
of analogy in archaeological reconstructions of the past. 

In the Eastern Arctic, our knowledge of Eskimo cul- 
tures of the last millennium relies heavily on the pio- 
neering work of Therkel Mathiassen and his experience 
as a member of the Fifth Thule Expedition from 1 921 
to 1924. Mathiassen demonstrated that very similar 
archaeological assemblages were recovered at most 
prehistoric sites throughout the Eastern Arctic. Although 
Mathiassen recognized that these assemblages re- 
flected some differences that were attributable to 
geographical and temporal distances, as well as to 
subsistence activities, he argued that the similari- 
ties between assemblages were much stronger than 
their differences. His intersite comparisons left no 
doubt about the continuity of the prehistoric cul- 
tural tradition and by drawing on analogy with con- 
temporary Eastern Arctic native culture, Mathiassen 
felt justified classifying all of these archaeological 
expressions in the Eastern Arctic under the appella- 
tion of Thule culture (Mathiassen 1927a:3). 

Mathiassen's ethnographic fieldwork exposed him 
to the external constraints (ecology, technology, 
economy) operating on Inuit culture. When he returned 

for his later archaeological research in Greenland , he 
brought this perspective with him. In later years, 
Mathiassen relied heavily on his experiences in the 
Canadian Arctic to derive his interpretations of Greenland 
prehistory, arguing that analogies based on Central 
Canadian Inuit culture were more accurate than those 
derived from Greenland, where more than two centu- 
ries of Danish colonial rule had introduced novel ele- 
ments. As a result, our perceptions of Greenland 
Neoeskimo cultures are strongly influenced by Mathias- 
sen's observations of Central Canadian Inuit, and these 
influences still pervade contemporary research in 
Greenland (Gullov 1992). 

Perceptions of the past can also be derived from 
oral traditions. Mathiassen (1927a:190) was aware of 
the Tunit legends, stories the Inuit told about an 
ancient race of dim-witted giant people who had been 
defeated by Inuit ancestors, and he presumed these 
stories had a historical background connected with 
the disappearance of the ancient Thule culture. Rethink- 
ing the Tunit legends three decades later, Jorgen Meld- 
gaard drew attention to the concordance between 

8 9 

the Tunit oral traditions and his archaeological research 
at Dorset sites in the Igloolik region of the Canadian 
Arctic. Meldgaard believed the oral traditions con- 
firmed his archaeological evidence of the succes- 
sion of Dorset Paleoeskimo and Thule Neoeskimo cul- 
tures. He also believed that "the stories give a much 
more vivid picture of the Dorset people than we could 
have obtained from the archaeological sources alone" 
(Meldgaard 195 5:172). 

While recognition of a later Thule culture preceded 
by a Paleoeskimo sequence culminating in Late Dorset 
is now universally recognized by Eastern Arctic archae- 
ologists, the nature of this cultural succession is not 
entirely clear from the archaeological record. Archaeo- 
logical interpretations rely heavily on radiocarbon dat- 
ing, which has a long problematic history in the Arctic 
(Arundale 1 981 ; Maxwell 1 985:253; McGhee and Tuck 
1 976), and archaeological research to date has not 
sufficiently explained the late- and terminal-period 
Dorset artifacts that appear in Early Thule, nor how 
and why Dorset traits reappear in certain areas in the 
Eastern Arctic (Gullov 1 996; Park 1 993). Neither do the 
Tunit legends provide unequivocal proof that contact 
between Dorset and Thule peoples ever occurred. It 
has been argued that Thule interest in abandoned Tunit 
houses and artifacts may actually have produced the 
stories told centuries later to Meldgaard (Park 
1993:220). In this chapter, I explore the possibility of 
reconciling contradictions between archaeology and 
oral history. 

The Principles of Connections 

Analogy is an integral feature of ethnohistory. In con- 
firming the connection between a given prehistoric 
context and its historic counterpart, a continuity of 
intervening events can be observed. In this way the 
use of analogy in ethnohistory is different from that in 
archaeology, which has to rely on logic to demon- 
strate similarities between ethnographic sources and 
archaeological materials (Wylie 1 985:95). Archaeologi- 
cal reasoning concerning the use of analogy recalls 

the idea that cause should be found through compari- 
son and inference, "for the same effects have the same 
cause," an idea put forward a hundred years ago by 
the former director of the Danish National Museum 
(Muller 1897:695; Ravn 1993:62). 

In cultural historical research today, the claim of 
causality has epistemological implications and depends 
on the interpretation of the records and sources, which 
always takes place from the vantage point of the 
present (Johnsen and Olsen 1 992:432). Thus, causality 
in analogy has an implicit ethnic perspective that has 
to be recognized when we confront ourselves with 
the question of who owns the past; otherwise, "our 
total reality is only an instant thick" (Willmot 1 985:41 ). 

In listening to stories told by native elders about 
the history of Greenland, we become aware of the 
widespread use of analogy in referring to archaeologi- 
cal remains, interpretations that correspond to our prin- 
ciples of connections in analogy (e.g., Gulbv and Kapel 
1979-1980). In other words, the elements in ethno- 
history are to be classified according to the relations 
between them that stress the continuity of recorded 
events. In archaeology, demonstrating similarity be- 
tween source and subject inevitably dismisses any 
analogy between culture and history (Bateson 
1 972:1 53ff; Trigger 1 991 :563). In the Arctic North, it 
may be possible to penetrate the dialectical relation 
between the past and present and the discrepancies 
in the use of analogy in ethnohistory and archaeology 
because, from a cultural historical point of view, ar- 
chaeology is inevitably a part of ethnohistory. 

Stories from the Field 

The year 1721 is a fixed point in the history of colonial 
Greenland. That year marked the return of Europeans 
to Greenland with the establishment of the Hope 
Colony, the first European presence following the dis- 
appearance of the Norse settlements. Eighteenth-cen- 
tury records attest to the difficulties faced by the Euro- 
pean colonists and their inability to supplant indig- 
enous social and subsistence systems with their own 


European sense of order. Recogni- 
tion of this fact by the colonists is 
interpreted as a concession to one 
form of Eskimo intellectual superi- 
ority. The traditional European 
conceptualization of Greenland's 
history has, therefore, been altered 
in favor of a more relativistic frame- 
work that puts Eskimo and Euro- 
pean cultures on equal footing 
(Gullov 1977). 

In 1971, during the 250th an- 
niversary of the founding of the 
Greenland colony, a discussion of 
intent and effect in history took 
place on Greenlandic terms based 
on the concepts of myth and sym- 
bol, as personified in the cleric Hans 
Egede, founder of the Hope 
Colony. On one hand, the colonial 
myth expressed the altruism of the 
colonizers. On the other hand, com- 
peting perceptions held Egede to be the symbol of 
colonial repression of Eskimo culture. This dichotomy, 
as expressed in the Greenlanders' attitude to their own 
history, became the basis for strategy and action and 
for rediscovery of their own identity. As a result of this 
discourse, archaeological research conducted at the 
Hope Colony sought to examine the objectives, ob- 
servations, and criteria used to evaluate these alterna- 
tive perceptions of the past— to explore "effect his- 
tory," as used in the sense of hermeneutics referring to 
tradition, semantic fields, and prejudices (Gullov and 
Kapel 1979:207). 

The ethnohistorical sources of colonial Greenland 
include stories about past triumphs of Eskimos in their 
encounters with Norsemen and whalers (Knuth 1 968a; 
Rink 1866, 1871). These historical accounts have for 
centuries been the means of sustaining ethnic self-re- 
spect among the Greenlandic population (Gullov 
1985a:292). The written source material of Danish 

8. 1/ Kcwgeq village in 1972, showing midden area (center), and Apollo 
Thobiassen's house (front right) 

origin (1 721 ) and Moravian parish registers (1 733) form 
important baselines for studies of historical ethnogra- 
phy. By using these, combined with oral traditions re- 
corded in the mid-nineteenth century, an ethnohistory 
of West Greenland can be written. 

My own interest in Inuit oral history came about 
through a chance encounter. In 1 968, I was excavat- 
ing at the Kangeq village in Southwest Greenland, a 
few kilometers from Hope Colony and the capital 
Godthab. The Kangeq midden is approximately 3 
meters thick (fig. 8.1). In the opinion of the project 
organizers, Helge Larsen and Jorgen Meldgaard, the 
site was thought to be comparable to Sermermiut in 
Disko Bay with a long record of Paleoeskimo cultures. 
One day when we removed the grass covering the 
top of the midden a number of tiny beads came to 
light scattered between pieces of crumbled wood. 
They appeared to be late-nineteenth-century Venetian 
glass trade beads and were thought to be associated 


with the last habitation of the house ruins nearby. 
Among the local people watching our excavations that 
day was an elderly woman who suddenly laughed, 
clapped her hands and shouted, "You found my box!" 
In less time than it takes to tell, we were all trans- 
ported back half a century to when she was a young 
woman and had just returned from the local shop 
where she had purchased a little wooden box with 
glass beads to be sewn to a collar. She lost the box on 
her way home. Although she had looked intensively 
for it, she had not been able to find it. Her house was 
abandoned in 1 936. 

This example shows how the archaeological re- 
covery of beads and the speculation that they might 
have been used for decorating a woman's coat could 
be derived through analogy by assuming that the his- 
torical use of beads is mirrored by their present func- 
tion. In this case, the woman's narrative, by means of a 
direct historical approach, confirmed formal analogy. 
From the narrative we also learned about the prin- 
ciple of connection between structures past and 
present in local memory. To archaeologists, the beads 
were just simple commodities; but in reality, they were 
part of local history. Today, it is easy to recall the defi- 
nitions of formal and relational analogy (Wylie 
1 985:94-95) to describe the different uses of analogy 

8.2/ Apollo Tobiassen, catechist and local historian of Kangeq, with 
newly confirmed young Greenlanders in 1970 

in archaeology and history, but in 1 968, chance would 
have it that I then came to know about local Inuit 
history by intuition before I learned about ethnohistory 
in anthropological discourse. 

The woman who identified the beads was married 
to Apollo Tobiassen (1 907-1 979; fig 8.2), the catechist 
who was also the local historian of Kangeq, and it was 
he who was responsible for the shift in my interest 
from Paleoeskimo archaeology to ethnohistory. Tobias- 
sen's knowledge about past events was an invaluable 
contribution to the ethnohistory of Southwest Green- 
land. He could trace his family's lineage for more than 
300 years back to the family's seventeenth-century 
communal houses that were contemporaneous with 
the Hope Colony! 

The nearly three centuries of oral traditions that 
Tobiassen can draw from is the same period in which 
archaeological evidence reveals a discontinuity in the 
habitation of communal house sites; these sites ap- 
pear to emerge suddenly, only to be abandoned a 
century later (Gullov 1985b). On the other hand, the 
ethnohistorical sources inform us of continuity in the 
habitation of the region as people who lived perma- 
nently in the fjords moved out to their new winter 
quarters at the sites in question, and which led to the 
later settlement among the Europeans. Using informa- 
tion from historical ethnography, we are 
now in a position to explain the uncer- 
tainty in the archaeological data, and 
furthermore to uncover the motives be- 
hind the changes within Eskimo soci- 
ety at that time (Gullov 1 985b, 1 986). 

Assumptions made about the past 
depend on the motives of archaeolo- 
gists and historians. Accordingly, the 
history of Greenland encompasses a 
variety of ethnic dimensions embedded 
in both archaeology and in Inuit oral 
history. To uncover the motives behind 
the changes within Eskimo society is 
a challenge to our archaeological 


methods in recognizing our own inability to under- 
stand prehistoric features within a frame of instrumen- 
tal reason (Johnsen and Olsen 1992:433). To begin, 
however, we can explore assumptions from the living 
oral traditions about subjective meaning in the minds 
of forefathers long dead when conducting archaeol- 
ogy as a source for ethnohistory. 

Stories from the Past 

From Apollo Tobiassen at Kangeq, we learned how 
the Kangermiut used the gullet from the Great Auk as 
a float for their bird darts. Great Auk bones were fre- 
quently encountered in the Kangeq midden excava- 
tions (Meldgaard 1 988:1 72). Alcids, including the Great 
Auk, wintered in the ice-free waters along the coast of 
Southwest Greenland and served as important provi- 
sions for natives who came to settle in the area. 

Among the newcomers we were told about was a 
certain Si'ngajik from southern Greenland who was the 
ancestor of our informant's family. He had arrived ten 
generations previously, yet in 1 975 Tobiassen pointed 
out to us the ruin of Si'ngajik's first house on Hope 
Island, several kilometers west of Kangeq. According 
to the story, Si'ngajik moved into a little house where a 
widow lived with her only daughter, whom he mar- 
ried. Later, he enlarged the house to make room for his 
housemates and companions who had been with him 
on his travels from the south. The location of Si'ngajik's 
house was not typical of local Eskimo tradition, being 
some distance from the rest of the house sites at 
lllorpaat (Gullov and Kapel 1979-80:353). 

According to oral tradition, nobody subsequently 
lived at the site of Si'ngajik's house. Yet the continuity 
of the family story handed down over ten generations 
(perhaps 300 years) was substantiated by historical 
records (Knuth 1963). Tobiassen had learned the his- 
tory of the place from a relative who died in 1925. 
Between the details in the narrative and the archaeo- 
logical observations at the site, "formal analogy" pro- 
vides insights into the events that took place at the 
end of the seventeenth century. 


According to Gullov and Kapel: 

When the girl saw Si'ngajik come out of the 
house and go towards her, she went up 
towards their house to show him the way, as 
he followed behind. She had said that they 
lived farthest south and uppermost from all the 
others ... by chance he happened to look out 
the window, only to discover the setting sun, 
its reddish glow already having spread 
across the entire western horizon .... Patiently 
he sat, waiting, until the sun was finally so 
low in the sky, that it shined in through the 
windows from the west . . . This afternoon 
when I went out of our house and looked down 
. . . since I wasn't satisfied with just looking 
at them, I went down to them . . . (Gullov and 
Kapel 1 979-1 980:374ff. Italics added.) 

Archaeological investigations of the house subse- 
quently uncovered additional details supporting the 
oral narrative. Excavation next to the large communal 
house, which was interpreted to have been used for 
one or two winters, revealed a small house with curved 
walls. In the entrance passage of the house was the 
body of a fifty-year old woman. Based on the large 
percentage of women's tools found in the small house, 
especially in comparison with the larger communal 
house structure, it appeared that the small structure 
had been primarily a woman's dwelling (Gullov and 
Kapel 1979-1980:373). 

Tobiassen's oral accounts contained additional in- 
formation about the interior of the house and the grave. 
The story runs: 

She pointed at her daughter's side platform, 
and Si'ngajik felt deeply thankful about this, 
because now he was to sit on the window 
seat just in front of the young girl . . . "It is 
true I am a woman, but I use her [the 
daughter's] help almost as if I was a man, 
and this is the reason why I have never given 
her away, though the people who live just 
north of us have often asked for her. Her help 
is the reason why we never, not even in the 
middle of winter, suffer need. But should it 
happen that she is given away, I prefer that 
the man who takes her will also live in this 
house. . . ." He [Si'ngajik] immediately started 
making arrangements in Kangeq, and already 
by the next day, they [the housemates from 
South Greenland] packed up and moved to 
lllorpaat. It was no problem for them to obtain 
land, since they simply went straight up to the 

9 3 

widow's house. . . . When Singajik's mother-in- 
law died during their fourth winter in lllorpaat 
[according to the story], he wanted to move 
back to Kangeq. His wife looked at him and 
replied, "When I leave this place, I will not be 
able to stop thinking about my old mother, 
but she is the only one who binds my 
thoughts to this place". . . and her husband 
replied, "You must know that there will be 
times when your thoughts will be possessed 
by that which you cannot forget. You can 
then visit this place, though it is only her grave 
you will go to. This you can do as often as you 
like. "(ibid. :374ff. Italics added.) 

The excavated faunal material showed the daughter 
was a good hunter. The 2,208 bone fragments identi- 
fied from the oldest house amounted to 776 seals, 1 5 
caribou, 28 dogs, 10 whales, and 1,379 birds, includ- 
ing 4 Great Auk, compared with the 2,21 8 bones iden- 
tified from the youngest house, which represented 597 
seals, 14 caribou, 28 dogs, 11 whales, 1 arctic fox, 
and 1 ,567 birds, including 3 Great Auk (ibid.: 379). 

Singajik's move into the widow's house allowed 
him to gain access to land that was already inhabited. 
According to Eskimo traditional land ownership rights, 
permission to stay depended on local communal ac- 
ceptance. Although it is an example of matrilocal resi- 
dence, as mentioned in the narrative, this is, to my 
knowledge, the only case from Greenland, but it nev- 
ertheless enabled Si'ngajik to settle, and later, to en- 
large the house to make room for his companions. 

Clearly oral narratives have potential to provide 
insight into historical events. In several stories from 
Kangeq, Singajik's descendants tell of the South Green- 
landers traveling north to winter in communal houses 
(Gullov 1987:84ff). Similar accounts are recorded in 
historical sources that provide information about travel 
activities along the west coast, including accounts of 
gathering places where hundreds of Eskimos would 
arrange to meet to exchange skins, soapstone, etc., 
for winter supplies, to search for marriage partners, and 
to exchange news (Gullov 1 985b, 1 987). Reports writ- 
ten in the mid-eighteenth century describe territorial 
usufruct rights as practiced within native Greenland 
society (Brosted 1986; Dalager 191 5; Petersen 1963). 

Of the many reasons for traveling, oral accounts testify 
to an interest in trading trips undertaken to obtain 
resources lacking in the home areas (e.g., baleen for 
fishing lines) or to obtain European commodities (Sonne 
1 990), and migrations to avoid blood revenge. The 
latter apparently was the reason why Si'ngajik first 
moved north. In former times, blood feuds had flour- 
ished between South and West Greenlanders but had 
been settled by marriage ties so that the South Green- 
landers now had relatives and in-laws all over the coast 
(Glahn 1 771 :263). 

Interpretations based on the excavation of early 
historic-period communal houses are in accord with 
historic ethnography in describing the wide range of 
activities, including shamanistic performances, under- 
taken in the winter dwelling (Gullov 1 988). The winter 
house served as a frame for the entire local commu- 
nity. The qassi, the men's house, became a physical 
part of the structure. "Thus the winter group could be 
considered as having once consisted of a kind of large 
house that was both a single and a multiple unit. This 
would explain the formation of settlements which were 
later reduced to a single house, such as at Angmags- 
salik" (Mauss and Beuchat 1 979:47-48). The oral tradi- 
tions and ethnographic analogy enable us to explain 
the shifts in settlement patterns that coincided with 
the environmental change brought on by a warmer 
climate (the culmination of the Little Ice Age), the chang- 
ing resource procurement opportunities and strategies 
(e.g., increases in sea bird populations in the ice-free 
waters of southwestern Greenland), and with the in- 
creased involvement with Europeans (whalers and then 
colonizers whose presence widened the market of 
trade goods and transformed patterns of exchange 
behavior; Sonne 1990). 

The historical situation of seventeenth- and eigh- 
teenth-century West Greenland thus parallels that of 
Labrador. "Herein lies a potentially fruitful avenue to 
pursue in reinterpreting the communal house phenom- 
enon, one that is contingent upon drawing an analogy 
between the rules governing production, distribution, 


and consumption of special trade items, those origi- 
nating with the newcomers in southern Labrador" 
(Richling 1993:73-74; cf. Kaplan 1985:65). 

With the advent of long-distance trading voyages, 
sometimes lasting two years, Creenlanders from dis- 
tant areas would be allowed to settle briefly at local 
communities. These trading voyages are mentioned in 
both ethnohistorical and historical sources, including a 
voyage that occurred as late as 1 900, when a group 
of Southeast Greenlanders moved to the west coast. 
Though the origin of these newcomers could be dem- 
onstrated by their distinct dialect (Schultz-Lorentzen 
1 904), the oral accounts of these journeys, because 
they lacked ethnographic and archaeological confir- 
mation, were never critically accepted (Birket-Smith 
1917:32; Gullov 1 982:1 3ff; Meldgaard 1977:40). 

The recognition of oral tradition and linguistic studies 
as valid ethnohistoric sources (cf. Fortescue 1986; 
Petersen 1986; Schultz-Lorentzen 1904; Thalbitzer 
1 904) has afforded historians (cf. Cad 1 984:64) valu- 
able insights into the social organization of seven- 
teenth-century Greenland. 

An analogous situation occurred in eighteenth-cen- 
tury Labrador (Richling 1993) with the appearance of 
large multipurpose communal sod houses at Labrador 
Eskimo sites. In Labrador the communal houses emerged 
with the acceleration and intensification of whaling 
and trading relations brought on by the appearance of 
European fishermen and whalers in the Strait of Belle 
Isle. In spite of the relatively short period this house 
type existed in Inuit history, an analog to the European 
mission structure as both assembly and festival houses 
was pointed out when Thalbitzer in 1935 asked one 
of my informant's South Greenlandic relatives about 
the meaning of the qassi (Gullov 1 988:1 96f; Thalbitzer 
1 941 :673). The analog established a principle of con- 
nection used in local history that is different from the 
ecological reasoning frequently employed in its ar- 
chaeological expression, i.e., seeing the communal 
house as a response to climatic change (cf. Gullov 1 982; 
Richling 1993). 

Analogy as Semiology 

As discussed above, oral narratives and ethnohistory 
have the potential to greatly expand our knowledge 
of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Eskimo soci- 
ety beyond that derived from archaeology alone. A 
second example is based on the problems that ar- 
chaeologists have had in defining implement form and 
function, despite detailed descriptions of hunting 
equipment from both West and East Greenland (Dalager 
191 5:18; Thalbitzer 1914:323). 

Collections of harpoon heads from the central-west 
coast, mostly from historic graves in the Disko Bay 
area, show considerable variation (Swenander 1 906). 
In the archaeological record, variation is often attribut- 
able to the presence of distinct social groups. Given 
the oral narratives that testify to the great journeys 
sometimes undertaken by Eskimos, including one band 
that traveled halfway around Greenland from Ammassa- 
lik to Disko Bay in two years (Gullov 1 982), it is not 
unreasonable to suppose that some portion of this 
variability is attributable to the movement of hunters 
between different regions. 

Among the customs brought to the west from the 
east coast where many people lived as noted in 1 733 
(Egede 1 925:267), we learn about a tradition from Aron 
of Kangeq, an ancestor of Apollo Tobiassen (Gullov 
1986:1 73). Aron's story, situated in South Greenland, 
tells about a hunter from the east coast who died on a 
trading trip around Cape Farewell. Discussing the burial 
custom with the local west Creenlanders, the sister of 
the dead hunter declared: "If we bury him on the ground 
his soul will suffer from cold and distress. We will there- 
fore follow our custom and lower him into the sea 
where neither cold nor lack of food exists," and they 
lowered him into the sea together with his tools and 
equipment (Meldgaard 1 982:66). We have no analogs 
from the west coast to the burial custom described 
here, but it is well known in the nineteenth-century 
literature about the east coast. 

The stories told through the centuries in Kangeq 
among Tobiassen's ancestors bear witness to a real 


world where objects found by the 
archaeologists are subjects in Inuit 
history. To use analogies is a part 
of the ethno-historical work, just 
as it is to the Eskimo narrator. We 
have to define both sides of the 
analogy from an ethnic point of 
view, i.e., the ethnographic source 
and the archaeological subject, in 
order to demonstrate similarities, 
while to Tobiassen and his rela- 
tives an object is a sign of some- 
thing that existed in their history. 
Thus, in general, a sign consists of 
three components: its appear- 
ance as a type (e.g., a winter struc- 
ture), the object to which the type 
refers (e.g., a communal house), 
and the interpreter, the individual 
or collective that interprets the re- 
lationship between type and ob- 
ject (e.g., stories about trading ex- 
peditions and travels) (Guiraud 
1971:49, 55ff). From an anthro- 
pological point of view, the inter- 
pretation of a sign follows a semi- 
ological practice in which one searches for the mean- 
ing of the code chosen rather than the meaning of the 
encoded message (Bateson 1972:130). The interpre- 
tation of glass beads, the communal house as a qassi, 
and the burial custom as signs analogous to events in 
Inuit history make sense to local informants in a way 
different from our "translation." Using analogy as semi- 
ology we can accomplish more comprehensive ethno- 
historical work. The following example illustrates this 
semiological approach. 

In 1918, Birket-Smith excavated some eighteenth- 
century communal houses at Ikarassanguaq in the 
Egedesminde district from "the period immediately pre- 
ceding and coinciding with the activity of Hans Egede, 
when the Danish colonization proper was as yet in 

8.3/ Harpoon heads found in Egedesminde (top) by Birket-Smith have 
similarities with this harpoon head from Ammassalik, a poorly explained 
archaeological fact. 

its infancy" (Birket-Smith 1924:46). Among the arti- 
facts found were harpoon heads used for sealing. 
They were unbarbed and had attached endblades 
and two dorsal spurs. They were similar to sealing 
harpoons recovered from East Greenland. 

"The Ammassalik type of harpoon head with 
basal barbs [i.e., spurs] facing each other and 
without marginal barbs is not limited to this 
district, but it is noteworthy that there is no 
other district, so far as we know, where this 
type has become predominant to such an 
extent over the other types as here" 
(Thalbitzer 1 91 4:430, fig.l 33e). 

The spurs of the heads found by Birket-Smith at 
Ikarassanguaq have slightly clefted points, a feature 
observed on similar harpoon heads from that period in 


Disko Bay and on other types from early post-contact 
sites (Gullov and Kapel 1979:75; Swenander 1906: 
plate 2). In other words, we have a harpoon head type 
that belongs to one group common in seventeenth- 
and eighteenth-century central West Greenland and 
Ammassalik (fig. 8.3). On typological grounds, the west- 
ern and eastern types are analogous to a certain de- 
gree, but on the ventral and dorsal sides of the har- 
poon head found in the communal house two grooves 
are to be seen crossing, as well as two converging 
lines between the apertures of line groove. On histori- 
cal grounds we can exclude the possibility that the 
types represent a classic example of parallel cultural 
evolution because, according to the eighteenth-cen- 
tury sources, contact was already established between 
the east and west coast. 

From ethnohistory we are aware of the activities 
that had taken place in the region in question where 
Creenlanders from south and east wintered in commu- 
nal houses and during the eighteenth century settled 
in the region. They spoke another dialect, and it should 
be stressed that influences from East Greenland grow 
less and less in West Greenlandic dialects the farther 
north one travels from Cape Farewell. 

Now, intonational features resulting from 
substrate influence tend to be rather long- 
lasting, and it is linguistically quite in order to 
suppose that the special accent at Aasiaat 
(Egedesminde) may, indeed, represent the 
last trace of eastern influence as it moved up 
the west coast. ... In other words, it is highly 
likely that there was a southern element in 
the makeup of the original population of 
Aasiaat (Egedesminde), and that the phenom- 
enon in question ... is indeed the northern- 
most trace of influence from the south. It 
probably did not come from Upernavik, far to 
the north of Sermermiut. Intonation is an 
important tag for group identity, and intru- 
sive features of this sort would have met 
with greater resistance (perhaps even 
conscious resistance) in more densely 
populated areas such as the southwestern 
deep fjord area around Qaqortoq 
(Julianehaab). On the other hand, certain 
segmental features emanating from the east 
were not so effectively resisted here, as we 
have seen (Fortescue 1986:420ff). 

Returning to the 1918 excavation, the harpoon 
head from the Egedesminde district is a clue to the 
explanation of the far-reaching travels and trading ex- 
peditions, and the ornamental carvings used on the 
head call attention to the artistic capacity of nineteenth- 
century East Greenland (cf. Thalbitzer 1 91 4:61 6ff). Us- 
ing a semiological approach to this artifact found in a 
well-defined historical context, we have to incorpo- 
rate the three components of the sign described above 
as a basic unit of relationship. To say that the harpoon 
head is a type commonly used for hunting smaller seals 
in certain regions on the east and west coasts where 
similar types have been found is only a tautology. The 
inclusion of the interpretation of the semiological rela- 
tionship between type and object (i.e., between de- 
sign and sealing) as given in the ethnohistorical sources 
enables us to analyze the meaning of the code cho- 
sen. The interpretation of the relationship in the eigh- 
teenth century relies on religious beliefs in which the 
Sea Woman plays a decisive role in hunting and trade— 
"Implements were attached to the hunter as the soul 
to the body" (Rink 1871:176; Sonne 1990:30)— and 
on social relationships and aesthetical expressions. 
These are connected to expressions of East Greenlandic 
group identity (Fortescue 1986; Gullov 1 982:1 3ff). 

From the semiological approach (Guiraud 1971: 
55ff), the harpoon head communicates an East 
Greenlandic origin. To the archaeologist, the object is 
an element of ethnohistory that tells of past events. 
Taking into consideration the circumstances of the eigh- 
teenth-century west coast, we have an analog to nine- 
teenth-century East Greenland where the changes from 
outside also influenced material culture. However, the 
search for the meaning of messages encoded in mate- 
rial culture of East Greenland is difficult because ana- 
logical reasoning also involves a Dorset culture con- 
tact not yet proven in this part of Greenland. On the 
other hand, a late cultural influence from the north, as 
mentioned by Thalbitzer from oral traditions, seems 
possible according to new investigations in archaeol- 
ogy and linguistics (Gullov 1 995; Thalbitzer 1 91 4:346). 


The use of analogies taken from historical eth- 
nography and oral traditions in South Greenland 
have been demonstrated. The method is quite dif- 
ferent from the one used by Therkel Mathiassen. 
Although he found a historic reality in the Eskimo 
traditions of the Canadian Arctic, he never used this 
knowledge when he excavated in Greenland later 
on. Prehistory is progressive, and the archaeologi- 

cal reconstruction of past lifeways includes analo- 
gies, which makes it different from ethnohistory 
where traditions can be followed back through the 
years. By combining these methods, one gains new 
insights that, in the future, may illuminate for ex- 
ample, the Dorset-Thule succession expressed in the 
harpoon head from Egedesminde, which has a simi- 
lar late Dorset decoration (Maxwell 1985:160). 


Northern fliesmere Island: A i held Diary 


In the summer of 1958, the Defense Research Board 
of Canada elected to send an extensive research party 
to northern Ellesmere Island in Canada as a contribu- 
tion to the worldwide International Geophysical Year. 
It was planned to include an archaeologist among the 
eighteen scientists in the expedition. The logical 
choices were either Scotty MacNeish or William E. Tay- 
lor, Jr., both of the Human History Branch at the Na- 
tional Museum of Canada. As it happened, both had 
previous commitments for the summer, and to my last- 
ing pleasure Bill Taylor asked if I would represent the 
Museum in this venture. It was an ideal opportunity for 
me. I had spent the previous three winters on the sea 
ice along the 70 parallel, locating ice landing strips 
for cargo planes for the Distant Early Warning line, and 
had become intrigued by the Arctic. No professional 
archaeologist had yet been to northern Ellesmere, and 
perhaps it held answers to many of our questions. 

My mission was to survey on foot as much of the 
terrain as possible and, where feasible, to excavate 
such sites as I found. I was helped in many ways by 
some of the other seventeen scientists at Lake Hazen, 
although, as will be clear below, I spent little time with 
many of them at our base camp. Geoffrey Hattersley- 
Smith, a glaciologist with the Defense Research Board 
was in charge of the expedition. Roger Deane, a lim- 
nologist with the Defense Research Board was next in 
command; other members included Robert Christie and 
Barry Walker of the Geological Survey of Canada, David 
Ingle Smith and John Powell of McGill University in me- 
teorology and botany, John Tener of the Canadian 

Wildlife Service with an interest in musk oxen, James 
Soper in botany, Michel Brochu of the Geographical 
Branch, Department of Mines, Ian McLaren of the Fish- 
eries Research Board, Keith Arnold the surveyor, and 
Helmuth Sandstrom in geophysics. 

Summer of 1 958 

During the summer, I kept an archaeological journal, 
which went to the National Museum. I also kept a per- 
sonal diary, which I am making public here for the first 
time. It has some historical interest in that it records 
the first archaeological exploration of the region and 
marks the beginning of my thirty-five-year involvement 
with arctic archaeology. The text that follows is ex- 
tracts from that diary, much of which is too long, wordy, 
and personal, and so I have abbreviated it in parts and 
elaborated it in other sections for the purpose of this 

Saturday, May 24. I arrived in Ottawa where I be- 
gan an excellent four-day briefing on arctic archaeol- 
ogy by Bill Taylor. He patiently and expertly reviewed 
for me virtually all that was known to date on arctic 

9 9 

Wednesday, May 28. The party departed by plane 
for Winnipeg and an overnight at Churchill. The next 
day we enplaned for Thule Air Base, Greenland, with a 
stop at Resolute and landed on the lake ice of Lake 
Hazen, Ellesmere Island, in a C1 1 9 at 01 00 the morn- 
ing of Friday, May 30 (fig. 9.1 ). 

Friday, May 30. 1 settled into base camp in the north 
shore of the lake and then checked out the foothills on 
skis. Everything was snow covered, no observable rock 
features. Peculiar sensation to have sun directly north 
at midnight. 

Saturday, May 31. With Dingle (David Ingle Smith) 
set off on skis up the Gilman Valley with supplies for 
the research team on the glacier. On the valley delta 
were three small tent rings showing through the snow. 
Snow too sticky for skis and we abandoned them. 
Constant up grade of 1 1 feet per mile. Often broke 
through shell of ice and sank to crotch. When we fi- 
nally reached the glacier face fourteen miles above the 
lake I was exhausted and had badly strained my right 
tendon. This gave me trouble through the summer. 

Sunday, June 1. By 0200 Geoffrey Hattersley-Smith 
and two others from the glacier crew had joined us. 
With five in the tent, it was hot and stinking and I 
moved to finish my sleep in the snow. Woke up 
about 1 000 with a white fox three feet away star- 
ing at me. About 1 200, Bob Christie, Barry Walker, 
and their dog team came tumbling down the gla- 
cier face and we all packed up for the trek back to 
camp, arriving at 0300. 

Monday, June 2. Loafed in camp. 

Tuesday, June 3. Searched six miles of the delta west 
of the base camp— nothing. 

Wednesday, June 4. Crossed Lake Hazen with Bob 
Christie, Barry Walker, and a nine-dog-sled team, the 
three men skiing beside the sled. The plan is to go 
down the Ruggles Valley to the coast where I will 
camp and search for sites. Started down a narrow ice 
foot along open water. Fast current with a number of 
whirlpools where the water goes in and out of ice 
tunnels. Very cold and windy. As we traveled down 
the valley, we saw five musk oxen on different bluffs 

1 00 


west of the valley. At about 2000, we stopped ten 
miles down the valley where Bob had previously seen 
some rock features. 

Thursday, June 5. Investigated circular rock cache 
on top of gravel terrace and what appears to be a 
rectangular tent ring due north of it. With snow on the 
ground, I was unable to locate any cultural material. (I 
believe that this cluster of rock features is the one that 
Pat Sutherland in a revisit in 1 988 identified as an Inde- 
pendence site.) I checked the bluffs on both sides of 
the valley for nineteen miles south of Lake Hazen with- 
out seeing signs of features. Camped at the head of 
Chandler Fiord on Shell Point. Number of raised beach 
strands with fossil shells but no signs of prehistoric 

Friday, June 6. Searched the shoreline about two 
miles east and west of Shell Point without success. 
Sledged along north shore of Coneybeare Bay. Steep 
talus slopes both sides of bay— no possibility of camp- 
ing spots. Crossing Coneybeare Bay to Tent Ring Creek 
where Bob, in 1 957, had seen a number of tent rings. 
Counted ten small tent rings barely visible about the 
snow. Will revisit later in summer. Fox barking on hill 
above while we set up camp. 

Saturday, June 7. Cleared snow off of most of rock 
features and one-half inch of moss and dirt off the flag- 
stone floor of House 1 but found nothing. Prepared 
cache of food for my return here. Plans for party: Bob 
and Barry leave tomorrow for Carl Ritter Bay. Plan to 
return to Miller's Creek, where I will be camping, on or 
about June 1 8. If they haven't arrived by June 22 I will 
walk back up the Ruggles to base camp or overland 
from Eastwind Bay. 

Left Tent Ring Creek at 1 745 for easy eight miles 
to Miller's Creek. The sled dog Lonesome took the lead 
for the first time and did very well . . . Miller's Creek 
renamed in honor of Lonesome. Now Lonesome Creek. 
Site looks excellent. Old delta with several tiers of raised 
beaches with structures on all except the top terrace. 
Located just across from Miller's Island with view down 
Coneybeare toward Fort Conger. 


Sunday, June 8. Awakened to a warm, 41 Farenheit 
day. Great swarm of large flies— like green bottle flies. 
Swarmed over dogs and everything. Mating every- 
where and immediately laying eggs. Got into freeze- 
dried beef and laid eggs in every hole. (This was the 
first experimental freeze-dried beef and it was perfo- 
rated all over its surfaces.) For a while I tried to dig out 
all the eggs but then gave up and ate them along with 
the beef. Helped Bob and Barry pack. They left at 1 300. 
Set up my camp after they left. Seems strange here 
alone. Strong feeling of lassitude hit me and I just 
dragged along. Every noise seems magnified— the 
slumping of snow on the sea ice, the far off rumble of 
rock slides on Miller's Island and on the north shore of 
Coneybeare Bay. Crawled into the sack at 2000— now 
below freezing and has been since 1 800 although day 
still very bright, clear and calm. 

Monday, June 9. Up at 0730 and out to dig at 0800. 
Cleared snow from Feature 1 and Feature 2. Well-de- 
fined fireplace in Feature 1 but no artifacts. Had the 
impression that time would go faster if I could just find 
an artifact. Time seems to drag very slowly. Flies very 
bad today— all over everything. Feel that the two walls 
of Fl may be just a windbreak around the fireplace. 
Ate at 1 800 then back to work until 21 30 when I had 
my big meal. Sky overcast and very cold. Slight breeze. 
Read until 2400. 

Tuesday, June 10. Awakened with awful start about 
0600 as left side of tent fell in. It was so sudden I felt 
sure an animal had done it. (Before I had left base camp 
on Lake Hazen, Geoffrey Hattersley-Smith, worried that 
I would have no means of protection while camped 
alone on the coast, had loaned me his father s old 
military issue Webley .455). Thinking it was a bear, I 
grabbed the Webley, unzipped the front of the tent- 
still zipped up in my sleeping bag— and found myself 
staring at a white wolf standing by my food box less 
than four feet away. I shouted and he ran about 1 
feet, then stopped and stood looking at me. I got out 
of the bag and outside in my sock feet. I shouted again 
and threw some rocks— inaccurately. Each time he 

1 1 

bolted about 1 feet. Apparently he has no fear of me. 
[There follows about two full pages of the journal de- 
scribing the wolf.] I went back up to my dig and he lay 
down on a sunny gravel patch and watched me trowel 
from about fifty feet away until late afternoon when 
he sauntered over the highest ridge. In assessing the 
damage, I found that he had simply dragged cloth 
bags of dehydrated food around without eating any 
(speaks to the tastiness of dehydrated food) and had 
eaten only the leather strap on my ski pole. Unfortu- 
nately, he had rolled in the sied dog's manure and then 
rolled on the cloth food bags. (By the end of the sum- 
mer this hardly bothered me.) In a way it seems nice to 
have company even if it is a wolf. Got miserably cold 
and came in (tent) for hot soup and coffee at 1 500 (I 
had very little gasoline and could only burn my little 
tin-can stove long enough to heat water for meals). 
Back to work at 1 600. Almost finished excavating 
Feature 1 and mapped it— not one blasted artifact. 
Gets very discouraging—looks like a good site but 
this is an awful lot to put up with for negative returns. 
Fox has been laughing from hill above Lonesome Creek. 
Most peculiar sound I ever heard. Cross between baby 
wailing, hyena laughing, donkey braying and dog bark- 
ing. Mountains a lovely cold shade of blue and white. 
Barren land. Ugly yet it is beautiful. Cached surplus gear 
in huge rock cairn . . . turned in at 2300. 

Wednesday, June 1 1. Amaguk the white ghost of 
Lonesome Creek is back. I woke up suddenly and saw 
it was 0330. I figured it must be something and I lis- 
tened intently. It is strange how few and yet how many 
noises there are when you are alone in the wilderness. 
There are the far off rumbles of rock slides that go on 
continuously from Miller's Island and the slopes of 
Coneybeare Bay. They sound like a far off jet plane or 
the stomach rumblings of a giant. During the day they 
are nearly continuous but slack off during the night. 
The flies buzz constantly with the higher pitched zz of 
a mating pair. The melting of the snow hummocks 
near the tidal crack slough like footsteps and the rustle 
of the tent also sounds like something stealing up on 

me. I have even been fooled by my stomach growling 
or a little catch in my windpipe. The birds don't sing as 
much at night nor do the foxes bark. There is a distant 
diurnal change in noises and impressions. It gets colder 
at 1 800, although the sun does not seem farther away, 
and begins to warm again at midnight. To get back to 
this morning. I heard a slight rustle in front of the tent. 
I got out of my bag and unzipped the front. There was 
the white devil. The wolf had dug up my cache and 
dragged everything around including my precious can 
of gasoline. Losing any of my scarce supplies could 
have serious consequences. Reluctantly, I decided the 
wolf must go. I shouted at him and threw rocks but he 
only ran off a little way. Finally I got out the Webley 
.455 and shot in the air. It made a tremendous boom 
but he only ran off a short distance; so I shot at the 
snow beneath his feet. He yelped (the only noise I ever 
heard from him) and jumped straight up in the air. He 
turned several times and looked back but walked 
steadily over the brow of Lonesome Creek. I assessed 
the damage. He had eaten my prized stinky cheese; 
rolled on my bar of soap— getting dog manure on it— 
and dragged around practically everything, but with- 
out really destroying anything. Went back to sleep 
about 0400 until 0800. Must find something today to 
make all this worthwhile. These either the most im- 
poverished Tunit or the most careful. Today the warm- 
est yet— worked all day in sweatshirt and T shirt. The 
moss is starting to bloom— little tiny reddish purple 
blossoms. And some of the willows have pussy wil- 
lows. About 2030 a great sighing like a strong wind 
from up Lonesome Creek. Gained in intensity, and died 
and gained again. Guess it must be the ice breaking 
up from the creek but cannot see into the gorge from 
here. Spring has really come today. The snow has just 
sloughed and slewed away. None left on my gravel 
shingle now. Turned in at 2300. 

Thursday, June 12. The sighing up Lonesome Creek 
gained in intensity— like a train rushing through a tun- 
nel. Often a sandstone slab lets go and comes ringing 
down the bluff. Had lunch at 1400 and had just come 

1 02 


in to warm up and have a cup of coffee and a ciga- 
rette at 1 830. The sound last night and today has 
been the melt water rushing down Lonesome Creek. 
Spring has been in the air. Lots more birds two more 
snow geese. Tidal pools are forming on the sea ice 
and so much snow has gone from the site it is hard to 
recognize features that looked so clear before. Put in 
a hard day at the dig and finally came up with tan- 
gible results. Found a broken knife handle and a piece 
of drilled whale bone in F2. Just noticed as I came in 
that Amaguk had chewed off three of the back guy 
ropes to my tent. Those back tent ropes are just inches 
from my head when I am asleep. Quit work at 21 30— 
bitter cold wind goes right through you. Hands were 

Friday, June 13. Read and worked on notes until 
0300, then slept until 0930. Beautiful day today. Warm 
and calm. Finished excavating and mapping Complex 
1 . Found a piece of cut antler. I am forced to conclude 
that this is just a camping ground— most of the circles 
appear to be meat caches. The little stone boxes are 
peculiar (they were fox traps). Too bad, with this op- 
portunity not to be a really productive site. 

Saturday, June 14. Day warm and calm. Slept well 
last night. Decided to inspect the reefs offshore be- 
tween the delta and Miller's Island. Didn't really ex- 
pect to find anything but knew I would always regret 
it if I didn't look. (Did look— no sign of occupation.) 
Started excavation on pit house (Feature 1 1 ). Appears 
to have sleeping platform at one end^paved with 
pieces of slate. Had good stew at lunch/dinner at 1 600 
then back to dig. About 2000 heard wolf fight to the 
east . . . went to tent for field glasses and saw it was 
Bob, Barry and the dog team. They had run into rough 
ice and hadn't made it to Carl Ritter Bay. Had gotten 
no farther than Cape Baird with backpacking. They 
had found Brainerd's petrified forest and place where 
Greely had cached his boat. Seems mighty good to 
talk to someone again. 

Sunday, June 15. Bob, Barry, and I surveyed the site, 
running in the centerline and baseline. Excavating Fl 1 

down to sleeping platform. Good to have company in 
camp again . . . Beautiful day today, warm, few flies. 
Will turn in early, 2030, from look of sky may be cold 
and windy tomorrow. 

Monday, June 16. Miserable night last night. Very 
high winds. My little tent was ballooning out like an 
airplane hangar and the skirts kept flapping up. Appar- 
ently some blowing snow in the night. . . . the cold 
went right through you. Bob and Barry wisely decided 
to stay in camp another day. Finished surveying the 
site and mapped in 27 features. Cold wet work. Fin- 
ished excavating Fl 2 (pit house)— no artifacts at all. 
Have been out of cigarettes for two days now and 
almost out of pipe tobacco. 

Tuesday, June 17. Bob and Barry left about 1430 
taking five dogs and the sled with them and leaving 
four of the dogs with me. They howled until the others 
were out of smell range and three of them settled down. 
Droopy kept chewing on his tie-down and about 1 745 
worked his way loose. I tried to lure him with pemmi- 
can but when he found the sled tracks he was off like 
a shot after the others. Worked on pithouse Fl 1 all 
day— permafrost in patches all through. Had just got- 
ten to floor and found two drilled fox teeth. The boys 
left the Mount Logan tent and the Coleman stove so I 
work and eat here and will sleep in the little orange 
job. I put rocks all around the skirt so it should hold. 
Coldest day yet. Here in the Mt. Logan my hands are 
numb and my breath makes a great steam. One of 
these days I have to go back down to Tent Ring Creek 
to map the site, do some excavating and pick up the 
food and gasoline I left there. Don't look forward to it. 
It will be a cold wet trip. Kind of bad to be alone again 
but not as bad as last time . . . Boys will be back June 
24 or before. 

Wednesday, June 18. Awful penetrating cold last 
night. Wind, low clouds, no sun. Must be the humid- 
ity. The wind across the sea ice picks up all the 
moisture from the melting snow. Put in a long hard 
day— ten hours on the house and four hours in sur- 
face search now that the snow is gone. It was worth 


1 3 

it— found my first harpoon head. Weathered and old 
but a great thrill (a very late Thule/lnugsuk type), 
also a large piece of drilled whale bone and two 
pieces of cut antler. Beginning to seem worthwhile. 
Don't feel like going to bed— beautiful night out- 
only difference between day and nights, the night 
is slightly cooler, the sunlight is not quite as strong 
and the sun is in the north. Even the dogs are rest- 
less and antsy tonight. Feel like I have been at Lone- 
some Creek forever. 

Thursday, June 19. Slept late, then put in a hard 
twelve-hour day. Still nothing in Fl 1 but a lot of inter- 
esting structure. Found whole new complex of tent 
rings on east side toward creek. Large, Thule type. Found 
cute little wooden doll— couldn't help think of the fa- 
ther who made it. Also drilled pieces of bone, wood 
and musk ox horn and of cut antler. In the evening, 
located a real midden on the gravel bluff just west of 
centerline. Solid bone just under the sod. Found blad- 
der dart point in midden. Took walk over to creek— 
really roaring now. Dug up all old cigarette butts from 
the gravel and rolled a smoke— tasted wonderful. Saw 
first bumble bee. 

Friday, June 20. Awfully cold and damp this morn- 
ing but above freezing. Stiff in all joints. Can't seem to 
warm up. Scratched on midden for about an hour and 
a half, then in out of the wind for coffee; back out for 
an hour and in for hot chocolate. First time found a 
broken arrow point; second time a broken ivory but- 
ton. Toward evening went over to C6 to look for whisk 
broom which wolf had dragged off the other day. 
Outside F31 found harpoon socket with piece of har- 
poon still in it— just lying on the ground. Turning over 
rock inside, saw nothing. Turned over next rock, here 
were three amber beads and a chunk of amber. Looked 
back at first rock and sure enough, two beads I hadn't 
seen. Then another rock and a beautiful harpoon head. 
Cold clear through but a good day. Out toward Cape 
Baird and north toward Lake Hazen the weather al- 
ways looks clear. This spot seems to be a bowl for 
bad weather. 

1 04 

Saturday, June 21. Still cold and penetrating. Breath 
steaming. Freezing rain last night. Will try to get a lot 
done then feed dogs early and strike out for Tent Ring 
Creek. Intermittent snow. Continued work in F31 . Found 
a total of nineteen amber beads and one ivory one. 
Decided to hike down a mile or so toward Tent Ring 
Creek to see whether I would need skis. On a gravel 
shingle about a mile and a half down I found a drilled 
soapstone mending sherd and then the rest of the pot 
sitting on the gravel. Returned to Lonesome and found 
a seal ulna ajaqaq (a cup and pin game) and a bone 
arrow head. Really been my lucky day. Slight drizzle. 
Set off at 21 00 for Tent Ring Creek eight miles away. 

Sunday, June 22. Really pleasant walking and ski- 
ing. Alternately moved from the ice shelf along the 
shore and out to beyond the hummocky zone. Many 
tide cracks. Around a point a fox, now in black and tan 
summer coat, came right up to me. We talked for a 
while. He walked along for a while about ten feet away. 
Decided to cross from cape to cape. The ice covered 
with one to four inches of melt water. Feet quickly 
soaked. Many seal on the ice. Checked every potential 
shore site. Feet dead and numbly sore, shoulders ached 
from the pack. As I got to the site, I saw a wolf up on 
the crest of the hill. Thought it was probably the one 
from Lonesome Creek. Many signs of wolf around- 
had scratched at but not damaged my cache. Piled up 
a few rocks and spread tent fly over them. Went to the 
bag about 0200. Couldn't sleep— too tired, too cold, 
ground too hard, too worried about being pounced 
on by wolf. Dozed off and on. Never more than an 
hour. Had to get up four times. Feet so sore could 
hardly stand on them. 

Monday, June 23. Finally got up at 0700. Looked 
site over; sketched structures and looked for artifacts. 
Found only one unworked bear canine. Started for home 
at 1 1 00. Feet and legs awfully stiff and sore. Feet prob- 
ably have a touch of trench foot. Arrived back at camp, 
fed dogs, had a big meal at 2300, and dozed off. 

Tuesday, June 24. Woke up refreshed and ready for 
work at 0730. Found six or seven good beads and 


two nice lumps of amber from F31 . Found multi-drilled 
bone strip— decoration for possible wooden vessel, 
and another just like it with a handmade iron nail stuck 
in it, and a long section of whale bone seal probe all 
from F33. Found more beads in other tent rings. Sur- 
prisingly, no artifacts or even food bones in the 
pithouses. Sun out for ten minutes. First time in ten 
days. Boys should be back tomorrow. 

Wednesday, June 25. Still cold. In afternoon climbed 
up the peak behind camp. At the fifty-foot level, I found 
what I thought was a badly eroded fox trap. (When I 
worked with Eigil Knuth in Greenland later in the sum- 
mer, I realized that this was probably the remains of 
an Independence house. Later, in 1 966, Eigil confirmed 
that it was.) Saw the boys around the bend at 1 830. 
They had been miserably cold too. No gas in the cache 
at Archer Fjord. Have to get gas by tomorrow. Guess 
we will leave for Sun Bay then up to Musk Ox Bay for 
the cache. Sure glad to have someone to talk to again. 
It was really amazing— just as they hit the melt pools 
around Lonesome Creek a big old oogruk (bearded 
seal) stuck his head up. Immediately all the dogs 
jumped in the water and nearly dragged the sled in 
too. The seal then flipped and played around in the 
water putting on a real show. It was just as if he had 
been waiting for a dog sled. 

Thursday, June 26. Cleaned up work at Lonesome 
Creek and off for Sun Bay about 1 500— arrived at 
21 00—1 3 miles. The snow melt left water four- to six- 
inches deep on the snow ice and our feet were wet 
and cold when we arrived. Sun Bay was disappoint- 
ing. It was muddy and silty and hard for us to find a 
dry spot for our camp. Greely's account had mentioned 
Eskimo sites here but there was no possibility of them. 
Think we will try to haul the sled across the mud to 
Basil Norris Bay tomorrow then up to Fort Conger. 

Friday, June 27. Up at 0600. Others still sleeping. 
Walked 6 miles around east side of the bay then across 
to Stony Cape. Climbed up on cape to look for cache 
supposedly left by Coneybeare. Since we were out of 
dog food and almost out of gasoline and people food, 

Bob decided to skip Fort Conger and to start up Black 
Rock Vale tomorrow. I decided to cross from Sun Bay 
to the upper part of Discovery Harbour. Half way back, 
in Basil Norris Bay, I found the site Greely had described 
and where apparently he had found a Dorset harpoon 
head. The Dorset house was there but virtually taken 
apart. At the edge of the house I found a Dorset fish 
spear. This site well studied by Greely. I put in 1 8 miles 
today, winding up at 2230 and feel great. Plan 1 8 miles 
tomorrow up Black Rock Vale. 

Saturday, June 28. Took off from Sun Bay for Lake 
Hazen, backpacking and dog packing up Black Rock 
Vale. So far as we know we are the first non-Eskimo to 
walk up this valley since Greely and two of his men 
made the trip in July 1 882. The first two miles were 
over awful mud flats, then a mile or so of sand dunes, 
followed by a steep rocky slope that opened out into 
an interminable gravel flat. We followed the muddy 
shore of Lake Heinzelman for eight miles but saw no 
sign of prehistoric occupation. Finally made camp at 
turn in the valley at 2100. Legs and feet very sore. 
Chow and warm tent felt good. Beautiful view of Lake 
Heinzelman back in distance. Slept on gravel terrace 
with slight slope. Slept with head downhill to relieve 
legs. Climbed in sack with wet socks and wet under- 
wear to dry them. 

Sunday, June 29. Woke with feet, legs and shoul- 
ders feeling pretty good. Running short on food and 
fuel but should get to cache tonight. Just before turn in 
river valley found old camp of Greely's. Pieces of stove- 
pipe, heavy tin cans and a large, very heavy baking 
pan. Now midnight. Walked until I thought I couldn't 
walk another step. Just slog along through the mud, 
rocks or creeks, soaking wet, stiff, sore and tired. About 
nighttime we came into the lakes and knew we were 
close. Found a good camp site about five miles south 
of the cache. Barry and I made camp while Bob took 
the dogs, who had only been fed once in three days, 
up to the cache. We made stew out of the last meat 
bar, egg powder, and dried onions— delicious. Out of 
coffee or tea. Lots of snow geese here on Lake 


1 05 

Beiderbeck. Plan to look for tent rings and meet Bob 
halfway tomorrow. 

Monday, June 30. Up at 0600 and inspected two 
tent rings on small peninsula in lake nothing exciting. 
At 1 000 started to pack when Bob returned. He said 
there was a welcoming party five miles north at the 
cache. Met John Tener, Jim Soper, Michel Brochu, and 
John Powell who had come to take us back to base 
camp by J 5 tractor and sled along the lake ice. Now 
back in camp (2000) after cold trip followed by many 
cigarettes, drinks, good food and warmth. Amazing 
how civilized and comfortable this grubby little camp 
can be. 

Monday, June 30. This is really Monday the 30th. 
I must have screwed up on dates when I camped 
alone. This was to be my day loafing in camp. In- 
stead turned out to be the roughest one yet. Roger 
Deane and Ian McLaren were going to take the J5 
tractor to the mouth of the Ruggles River. It seemed 
like a good opportunity to get a ride there to exca- 
vate the house I had seen back on June 4. The ice 
had melted some distance back from the shore, so I 
took a small rubber raft to get in to shore. Roger and 
Ian returned to base camp, and once more I was alone. 
This is an amazing spot. Everyone passing throughout 
the Hazen Valley had camped here. Greely and some 
of his men had dug a little bit in the Thule-type house 
in the summer of 1 883. Raining quite hard; so ate, then 
out in the rain to scratch around and walked three 
miles south and two miles west; then back again. Warm 
and still raining hard. About midnight at least 200 feet 
of ice had disappeared out from the shore and it looked 
weak all the way out to the middle. The lake had been 
constantly candling (the freshwater-lake ice had formed 
vertical crystals two feet long, which were too strong 
to push a boat through but too weak to support any 
weight), and I felt that if I didn't make a try at getting 
back to base camp eight miles across the lake I would 
be stuck there alone again for three weeks until a boat 
could get through. I packed up wet tent, stripped to 
cotton underwear, put anorak over that then forced 

the dinghy into the candled ice as far as it would go. 
Then with oar to help hold me up, slid on my belly to 
firmer ice. Sunk ice ax, tied rope to it and went back 
for gear. Had to haul gear by rope— ice wouldn't hold 
up under both gear and me. When got to firmer ice, 
tied dinghy to outside of pack and started off. I walked 
all night with occasionally one leg and then the other 
falling through the ice and struggling to stand up. Fi- 
nally reached camp at 0500 and fell into bed. The 
next day I weighed my pack when things had dried 
off some and it weighed 82 pounds. Mosquitos out 
for the first time. 

Tuesday, July 1. Slept until noon and really loafed in 
camp. Today is Dominion Day, so put on bow tie and 
shaved my side whiskers. Brought the archaeological 
catalog up to date. Ice on this side is firmer so tomor- 
row Bob, Barry, and I will take the tractor to the east 
end of the lake where I will camp for about three weeks 
until the lake opens up and someone can pick us up 
by boat. 

Wednesday, July 2. Went over all my gear in prepa- 
ration for trip; then from noon to 1 600 walked about 
six miles in search of tent rings on delta of Blister Creek- 
west of John's Island. Left base camp at 2100 with J5 
and sled. Tractor stopped twice on way and we had 
to suck out fuel line. Got to the end of the lake, but 
there was open water for about 200 feet to shore. 
Had to jump in the shallow water and carry the gear 
ashore in many trips. Candled ice cracked against shins. 
All gear finally on shore. Finally had tent up and coffee 
brewing by 0500. 

Thursday, July 3. All slept until about 1 800. Warm 
and mosquitos fierce. Went to see the reported site. 
These were all modern Eskimo houses apparently built 
by Peary's men in the winter of 1 906. Lot of metal, 
cloth, and tin cans around small stone houses. Chunks 
of amber weathering out of coal seam on beach. 

Friday, July 4. (There followed twenty-four mainly 
frustrated days. The mosquitos were bad, the weather 
fluctuated from very warm to very cold, and there were 
no signs of prehistoric occupation on this muddy and 

1 06 


boggy end of the lake.) Mosquitos so bad nearly drive 
you out of your mind. Great cloud around head, fly in 
ears mouth, nose and eyes. (In subsequent years, I grew 
to expect mosquitos in the arctic summer but they 
have never been as fierce as they were that summer 
at the east end of the lake.) Had last drink out of the 
bottle to celebrate the fourth. 

Saturday, July 5. The ground here is about two feet 
of moss, grass and silt over a three-foot fossil ice lens, 
which overlies a seam of coal from which amber nug- 
gets are weathering. This area is called Turnabout Creek. 
Very warm in early evening— probably high forties, low 
fifties— thermometer broken. Five musk oxen between 
Turnabout Creek and Salor Creek. Peculiar echo phe- 
nomenon from cold dense air mass over lake ice about 
50 yards from shore. Searched beach, lot of tin can 
stoves, whip handle, wooden upstander, etc. 

Sunday, July 6. Bob and Barry took off at 1 400 for 
a fourteen-day dog and back pack to the northeast. I 
searched the height of land for six miles around the 
end of the lake— nothing. Little yellow poppies and 
purple saxifrage all over hills. Well, I wanted to get rid 
of the bugs and I did. About 2300 a storm blew up— 
and what a storm. Rain, wind gusting from estimate 
of 40 to 70. Tent filled with sand. Bitter cold, tent 
crashing and billowing— never heard such a racket. 

Monday, July 7. Happy Birthday to me— what a day. 
Wind has not abated one bit since eleven last night. 
The wind continued through the day. Sun was out 
and it was too hot to sleep in the tent and too cold 
outside. Now 0400, not the slightest bit sleepy— re- 
ally off schedule. 

Tuesday, July 8. Finally dozed off about 0600 and 
slept until 1 200. Wind died down a little. Packed back- 
pack and set off for the lakes at the head of Turn- 
about Creek. Really enjoyable, beautiful day, strong 
breeze. Walked four miles east along the shore of the 
lake— pretty, but all silt— no Eskimo signs. Stopped at 
1 700 for sardines and oatmeal bar— wind died at last 
after 42 hours. Varmints up immediately in great blood- 
thirsty swarms. Back in tent at 2000. Will fix good 

meal of spaghetti and cheese and carrots. At least my 
feet and hands are no longer swollen and sore and my 
right heel tendon is almost completely cured. 

Thursday, July 9. Awoke at 0800— glad to be back 
on schedule. Plan to take overnight hike to the Gilman 
River today. First will try to take bath in washbowl. 
Decided I better sketch the house nearest the lake. 
Much the same design as other houses I have done 
but has a deeper cold trap entrance. House covered 
with canvas tent— musk ox skins on sleeping platform, 
old kamiks (boots), iron toggle rings, pointed iron rod, 
tin can, tin bowl, several small chunks of amber, hare, 
goose, caribou and musk ox bones. Ate at 1 700 and 
debated going to Gilman but too late. Found tent ring 
300 yards north of western house. 

Thursday, July 10. Couldn't drop off to sleep last 
night until 0600, then slept until 1 200. Woke up with 
headache, eyes puffy, bitten all over. Today I am 
going to walk until exhausted. Coffee and peanut 
butter then off for Gilman at 1 700. Left sleeping 
bag and tent behind and took just ground cloth 
and fly. Walking along the lake shore a male and 
female ptarmigan ambled along about 1 feet ahead 
of me; an eiderduck waddled slowly to the shore and 
swam away. Two white Arctic hares danced along on 
their hind legs with their front paws clutched against 
their chests and Arctic char swam in the shallows op- 
posite the gravel cliffs. There were musk ox bones and 
pieces of wood all along the shore. Much of the wood 
had been sawed, probably the work of Peary's men. 
Coal and amber on old sand beach about 1 00 feet 
above lake level. Game trail very pronounced along 
north shore— musk ox, wolf and fox prints in mud. Ar- 
rived at Gilman Delta 2200— tired but feeling good. 
Beautiful camp site— sand and gravel— ice up against 
the shore— clean water (water at Turnabout been 
muddy ever since the storm). Tried to sleep at 2400, 
couldn't. Finally got up and walked around the delta 
and up the valley. Saw four musk oxen across the river. 
Walked until 0500. Found several tent rings and caches 
on this side of the river. 


1 07 

Friday, July 1 1. Dropped off about 0600, slept till 
noon. No sleeping bag. Woke up a little stiff and chilly, 
quickly walked it off. I mapped the tent rings and 
scratched around them but found nothing. Everything, 
animal bones and pieces of wood, appeared to be on 
the surface. About 1 700 I tried to cross the many chan- 
nels of the Gilman. The ice water off the glacier was up 
to my waist, and half way across my legs became 
numb and I retreated. Low on food and tobacco here; 
so set off for Turnabout camp at 2000. Saw ptarmi- 
gan and hares on way home. Planned big dinner but 
when I arrived at 231 5 had peanut butter and crack- 
ers while waiting for coffee to perk and immediately 
after turning off stove dropped off to sleep without 
drinking coffee. 

Saturday, July 12. Planned to go back to Gilman 
today with more food and stay for a few days, but it 
looked like a storm back there. Six loons outside at 
the lake ice edge crying their lonesome call to the 
quiet sky. Amazing thing the cry of the loon when you 
are alone. Couldn't get to sleep by 0500 so I threw a 
rock at the loons to get them to fly away. 

Sunday, July 13. Finally asleep by 0600. Slept 
until 1 300. Lake water up considerably and very 
muddy. Got going about 1 730. Beautiful walking 
along. Saw three hares and two ptarmigan. Was 
going to clobber the hen— dying for fresh meat— 
but couldn't bear to separate the happy couple. 
Little chilly, glad I brought my sleeping bag, hadn't 
planned to. 

Monday, July 14. This morning as cold as any at 
Lonesome Creek. Put in a good twelve-hour archaeo- 
logical day. Found a harpoon socket and tip of a har- 
poon point in F4 and a piece of a whale bone artifact, 
probably part of Dorset composite knife handle, in the 
midden at the point. The worst thing about being alone 
is that you repeat phrases of songs over and over. 
Repeated "what makes the lamb love Mary so, Mary 
so etc." a thousand times. The river will strike a note 
and hold it for hours. Strange how many tones there 
are in the rushing water of a river. 

Tuesday, July 15. Very cold last night. Slept from 
2300 to 2400, then couldn't get back to sleep. Walked 
around and troweled some more. Found a piece of 
whale bone in F4 and a crude antler fish spear, possi- 
bly Dorset, under a rock in F5. Worked steadily until 
0100 then made two attempts to cross the river. On 
second attempt almost got swept out into the lake. 
Now 0430. Sun came out for first time in two days. 
Beautiful. Started to warm up. Believe I can sleep now 
until noon. 

Friday, July 16. Slept until about 1 500. Woke up 
with a splitting headache. Worked until 1 800 then went 
back to sleep about 1 900. Woke out of a sound sleep 
2100. Tent gave a little lurch and noise of tin cans 
outside so I knew it was wolf or fox. Unzipped the 
tent and saw seven wolves all around me. I shouted 
and six ran away a little ways and stood watching. 
The seventh stayed about ten feet away staring at 
me. Throwing rocks didn't do much good; so I got out 
the Webley .455 and shot at the gravel near his feet. 
They then all took off up the valley. Two musk oxen 
had been grazing on a mesa up the valley and the 
wolves surrounded one but took off when the other 
musk ox charged them. This afternoon will probably 
head back for Turnabout. 

Saturday, July 1 7. Never did get to sleep; so had a 
big breakfast and went out to work at 0800. Very 
cold. Finished up and left the Gilman at 1 700. Pack 
very heavy, estimate fifty to sixty pounds. Shoulders 
awfully tired. Signs of wolf pack along shore but they 
hadn't bothered camp at Turnabout. Cold storm com- 
ing up as I hit camp. Shelter of tent felt good. Water 
just solid mud. Made some coffee anyway. The bang- 
ing of the tent in the wind kept me awake until 0500 
then slept until 1 200. 

Sunday, July 18. Woke up feeling pretty good. 
Waded out up to the knees to get some clean ice 
from big pile blown on rocks. Numbing cold but I was 
so thirsty. Bob and Barry were due back yesterday. 
The agreement was that if they were forty-eight hours 
overdue I was to walk back to base camp (twenty 

1 08 


miles and two rivers away) for help. I'll bet anything 
they went on to the weather station at Alert. If so, no 
telling when they will be back. Truly beautiful at mid- 
night. Read, cataloged, and caught up on archaeo- 
logical notes until 0700. 

Monday, July 19. Finally dropped off to sleep about 
0830 and woke up about 1400. Reasonably certain 
the boys have made it to Alert and sent a radio mes- 
sage back to base camp. Still too much ice along the 
shore to get a boat through. Hope I don't have to 
start the long trek back to base camp after 48 hours. 
I feel it would be unnecessary yet it really is the only 
thing to do. 

About 1 800 walked four miles east along the height 
of land to look for them and any possible sites. Re- 
turning to camp had a real windfall. Wind had blown 
ice crystals to beach right in front of camp, busily gath- 
ered, melted, then filled every receptacle with reason- 
ably clean water. 

Tuesday, July 20. Went to sleep about 0800, up at 
1 300. Nothing to do but wait. Will start for base camp 
at 72 hours overdue— midnight tomorrow night. 

Wednesday, July 21. Went to sleep at 0900 until 
1 300. Now 1 700 so shall finish up on west house and 
pack to set off at 2400. At 21 30 here came the boys. 
They had gone on to Alert and thought I would have 
gone to the Ruggles River. They had almost camped 
out tonight, which would have been tragic. 

Wednesday, July 23. Boys had spotted a tent ring 
about six miles inland so I walked in to look at it, 
returning 21 30. Only a few pieces of cut antler. Pretty 
uneventful day. Very cold and rainy. 

Thursday, July 24. Rested in morning. Packed up 
about midnight with fifty-pound pack (no tent or 
ground cloth) for exploring along south shore. Went 
down Salor Creek for a few miles, crossed it, and then 
across the height of land to a spot opposite where 
Greely had made his fourth camp. Made cold camp 
on damp sand beach. 

Friday, July 25. Slept fitfully until 0900. Packed up 
and walked about nine miles. Saw two musk oxen 

asleep until I walked right up to them. Found one poorly 
defined tent ring. Ground all silt, hummocky badlands 
underlain by fossil ice. When within sight of Ruggles 
River, turned back for the fifteen-mile hike to Turnabout. 

Saturday, July 26th. Slept from 2200 to 1 400. Now 
that the south shore is done, there is nothing to do but 
relax until the boat comes down from base camp. 

Sunday, July 27. About 1 700 Roger Deane and Ian 
McClaren showed up with two boats. They had found 
an open shore lead. Ian had caught some Arctic char 
and Roger had pipe tobacco. Both tasted wonderful. 
Struck camp and took off about 2100. The lead was 
open to the Gilman River but two miles above Section 
Creek we were stopped by ice and made camp. Soon 
after, a lead opened up again; so we set off only to be 
stopped by hard ice about eight miles from base camp. 

Monday, July 28. All slept until 1 500, then started 
hauling one of the boats across the ice by walking 
along shore in ice water up to our waists. Reminded us 
of some of the early British Arctic expeditions. Finally 
cached boat and walked the last two miles into camp, 
arriving about 0230. 

Tuesday, July 29. Hauling party all too tired to sleep. 
Got up at 0800 for a good breakfast. Afterward I set 
off for Blister Creek to excavate the two small tent 
rings there— no artifacts. While I was digging I suddenly 
looked up and there was a fox looking at me from 
about five feet away. I talked to him and quietly reached 
for my camera but he trotted off. 

Wednesday, July 30. Spent the day bringing notes 
and maps up-to-date. After supper decided to go down 
to John Tener's camp on Snow Owl river. While I was 
sitting there in the tent having coffee, a fox in summer 
pelage stuck his head in the tent. On the way back to 
camp I saw a twenty-foot exposure of fossil ice and 
two musk oxen. 

Thursday, July 31. Beautiful day. First sun in couple 
of weeks— since July 1 9 I believe. Bob and I took off in 
the canoe for the Gilman Delta. Arrived about 0300. 
Caught a couple of Arctic char, fried and ate them and 
off to sleep. 


1 09 

Friday, August /. Started excavating a small round 
house built of colossal rocks (some estimated at more 
than 1 ,000 pounds). House filled with windblown sand 
with floor at three feet below the surface. Found only 
one small chert scraper (probably Dorset). At 2300 
Bob took off to meet Keith Arnold who is making his 
way down Section Creek. Wolf on terrace above my 
old camp. Geese flocking to go south. Willow leaves 
turning— winter coming. 

Saturday, August 2. About noon Bob showed up 
with Michel Brochu, Keith, and two dogs— one with a 
paw nearly torn off in a fight and the other a bitch 
almost due to whelp. I took off in the canoe with Bob, 
Michel, and the two dogs. Decided to chance a trip to 
the Ruggles along the ice front. My cache was intact, 
even my favorite caribou skin left between two rocks. 
I started to excavate right away (0300) in case I had 
to leave suddenly. 

Sunday, August 3. The next nine days became a 
blur of constant working, little sleep, and no real meals. 
The Thule house was a fascinating one with every- 
thing the man and woman occupants had owned still 
in place. After such a disappointing summer I was de- 
termined to excavate, leaving everything in place for 
mapping. Bob and Michel left, leaving me the two dogs. 
The poor injured one howled all night. Several times I 
nearly decided to shoot it to put it out of its misery. 

9.2/Knuth (R) and Maxwell at Independance II Solebakken 

Monday, August 4. About 1 500 a musk ox on the 
opposite bank tried to cross the river. Got very angry, 
snorting and prancing. Would have made shambles 
out of camp. Worked steadily until 0100. Ate a little 
out of a large can of roast beef. 

Tuesday, August 5. Worked steadily with little time 
out for eating or sleeping. Musk ox tried to get across 
the river again. 

Wednesday, August 6. Awakened at 0600 by air- 
plane landing. Rushed out in sock feet. It was Terry 
Moore, flying-president of the University of Alaska in a 
Piper Super Cub on floats. He flew me back to base 
camp for mail and breakfast, then back to Ruggles. 
Musk ox tried to cross river again. Shot Webley into air, 
which scared him off. At 2300, Dr. Moore picked me 
up again and flew me around the lake at low altitude 
looking for more sites. 

Thursday, August 7. Up at 1 1 00, worked frantically 
with no meals, two cups of coffee, until 2400, many 
more artifacts. Dr. Moore dropped me a message at 
2200 said icebreaker Atka in Chandler Fiord late to- 

Friday, August 8. Working against time. Haven't 
stopped for full meal or night's sleep since arriving here. 
Roger dropped in by boat for supper. He is stranded 
at the east end of the lake. Shared my can of roast 
beef with him. Good to have company. 

Friday, August 9. Awakened at 0800 by 
terrific racket of helicopters passing over. One, 
Charley Le Boeuf, stopped in to pass the time 
of day. Piaseckis and Bell helicopters back and 
forth all day ferrying fuel and supplies. Dingle, 
Hal Sandstorm, and Keith Arnold and dogs 
dropped off at my camp. Boys amazed at 
how cold it is here compared to elsewhere 
around the lake. 

Sunday, August 1 1. Awakened by Charley 
Le Boeuf at 0800 who wanted to know when 
I wanted to be picked up. Later in day Bell 
landed twice, Piasecki once to pick up injured 
site dog. Helicopters over all day taking pictures 

1 1 


of musk oxen, Terry Moore over from Eureka, 
boat on lake droning away with echo sounder. 
Navy P2V ice recon plane over— all we needed 
was a hot dog stand. Will be picked up to- 
morrow afternoon. Boy I'll be glad to get warm. 

Sunday, August 1 1. Up early and rushed to 
finish shining. 

This essentially ended my research for the 
summer. I spent the next two days in base 
camp, cataloging artifacts, resting, and eat- 
ing. On August 1 3 Charley flew me up to a 
group of tent rings east of Snow River, but I 
found nothing. On the 14th, he picked me up 
and deposited me on the USCG Atka ice 
breaker. Took a great hot shower, drank beer, and 
smoked cigarettes. Traveling across Kennedy Channel 
on the Atka we received word that Count Eigil Knuth, 
the well-known Danish archaeologist, excavating a very 
important site on Polaris Promontory, Greenland, was 
running behind schedule. He requested that I come 
over to help him finish up (fig. 9.2). We worked to- 
gether for four days on a very interesting Independence 
site, then I back on the Atka on the 1 8th (fig. 9.3). By 
then I was through with the wilderness life for the year. 
I arrived on Thule Air Base August 20 and with a series 
of planes and trains arrived home on the 24th. 


The summer had many enjoyable moments and some 
difficult ones. I had spent forty-two days completely 
alone, an experience I do not choose to repeat. Ac- 
cording to the map, I had backpacked some 736 kilo- 
meters, a feat I never repeated. Scientific results of the 
survey were not as impressive as I could wish, nor as it 
turned out, as definitive as if I had helicopter support 
throughout the summer. The results are best summed 
up by a few sentences from the published report: 

9.3/ Maxwell and Knuth examine artifacts on board Atka. 

Eskimos from an as-yet unexcavated, or 
unidentified, settlement made a limited, 
seasonal use of the region in the period 
comparable to that covered by the stratified 
Comer's Midden (northern Greenland) from the 
transition of Thule to Inugsuk culture (and) 
through the middle part of the Inugsuk devel- 
opment. ... In the light of previous theories we 
considered it a foregone conclusion that 
evidence of early migrations lay in this little 
explored region. . . . However, we found no 
evidence of such migrations and in light of the 
region covered by the survey consider it 
unlikely that these movements took place 
through the region. Rather, the Lake Hazen 
valley appears to have been a cultural cul-de- 
sac, used as a seasonal hunting ground by 
people marginal to pervasive settlements on 
Greenland. These hunting trips stopped in the 
mid-fifteenth century for unknown reasons. 
(Maxwell 1960:88) 

These conclusions would have been quite different had 
I only walked the same distance west of Lake Hazen 
as I had walked east. Twenty-two years later, Patricia 
Sutherland (1 980) found that there were a number of 
Independence sites between the west end of the lake 
and the western fiords of Ellesmere. It would appear 
that Steensby (1 91 0) had been right and that this was 
an early migration route to Greenland. 


1 1 1 

]^)ernographt) and Interaction: An A 

(Z.ore, A rea O once pt in f aleoeskimo Studies 

ppraisal o 

f th< 


The 1 993 Elders Conference offered a rare, possibly 
unique, opportunity for the younger members of the 
arctic archaeological community to sit at the feet of 
their intellectual forebears and learn firsthand about 
the history of their field of study. In keeping with the 
historical theme of the meeting, I have chosen to 
revisit the "core area" concept— an idea that has 
structured many researchers' writings about Paleo- 
eskimo demography and cultural development in 
the Eastern Arctic. 

Core Area Concept and the Question of 
Occupational Continuity 

The core area concept arose in the late 1 960s and 
early 1970s (McChee 1972a), but appears to have 
attained its current form at the 1 973 School of Ameri- 
can Research Seminar Series (SAR) meeting in Santa 
Fe, New Mexico (Maxwell 1976b; McGhee 1976b). 
At that time, several of the participants saw the eco- 
logically rich area surrounding Foxe Basin as a region 
continuously occupied for what was then thought to 
be the 3,000 years of Eastern Arctic Paleoeskimo pre- 
history. At the time of that meeting, Igloolik was the 
only location where there was known to be an unin- 
terrupted sequence of occupation from Sarqaq (Pre- 
Dorset) until the Late Dorset period (Meldgaard 1 960b, 
1 962). While various scholars had conducted research 
in other areas (most notably McGhee at Port Refuge 
and Bloody Falls; Maxwell in the Lake Harbour area; 
Taylor in Ungava and on Victoria Island; Collins on 
Southampton Island and in Frobisher Bay; Harp in 

Newfoundland, eastern Hudson Bay, and in the Thelon 
River drainage; Knuth in Peary Land and on Ellesmere; 
Mary-Rousseliere on North Baffin; and Fitzhugh and Tuck 
in Labrador), their impressions based on this early work 
were that the Paleoeskimo occupations of these re- 
gions were punctuated by periods of abandonment 
(McGhee 1976b). Following this abandonment, these 
areas were eventually recolonized by people whose 
technological inventory shared many stylistic similari- 
ties with contemporary people in the core area. The 
late Father Mary-Rousseliere appears to have been one 
of the strongest proponents of the core area concept 
at the SAR seminar. He concluded his discussion of the 
Paleoeskimo prehistory of northern Baffinland with the 

It is tempting to see the Foxe Basin region 
in Dorset times, at least during certain 
periods, as exerting a strong attraction on 
populations, and at the same time radiating 
its cultural influence not only in the techni- 
cal domain of weapons and tools, but also 
in that of clothing, fashion, art, and ideol- 
ogy, as was the case in modern times. 
(Mary-Rousseliere 1976:57) 

Research since the SAR meeting has tended to con- 
firm the impression that some areas outside of the core 

1 1 3 

were periodically abandoned, but it has also placed 
this initial impression on increasingly thin ice in other 
areas. For example, Banks Island is at the westernmost 
end of the region known to have been occupied by 
Dorset people. In core area concept terms, it is very 
peripheral. Work by Arnold (1 980) and Le Blanc (1 994) 
indicates that Paleoeskimo people occupied the area 
during the period from 2800 to 2300 years ago. The 
lithic tools they recovered— notched end and side 
blades and ground burin-like implements— are not 
greatly different from those used by contemporary 
Croswater (transitional from Pre-Dorset to Dorset) 
peoples in Labrador and elsewhere, though these forms 
seem to persist in the Banks Island-Cape Bathurst area 
for a few hundred years after they are superceded by 
"Early Dorset" forms (Cox 1 978; Tuck and Fitzhugh 
1986:165) farther east. Arnold attributes this stylistic 
lag to a period of isolation from contact with the East 
following the initial colonization. 

The peripheral nature of the area is further high- 
lighted by examination of the organic portion of the 
assemblage. At both the Lagoon (Arnold 1 980) and 
Crane sites (Le Blanc 1 994), harpoons with lashing slots 
and needles with rounded heads and circular eyes 
appear to be more at home in Alaska's contempo- 
rary Norton tradition. The intermediate geographic 
location of sites in the Banks Island-Cape Bathurst 
area between Alaska and the core area combines 
with their technological inventory to suggest that 
contact between the two conceptually discrete cul- 
tures (Dorset and Norton) has produced something of 
a cultural hybrid, which Le Blanc argues should be 
termed the Lagoon Complex. Following this hybrid- 
ization, it appears that the area was eventually aban- 
doned. The ultimate impact of Norton-tradition ideas 
and artifacts on Dorset culture (and vice versa) remains 

The findings from the Banks Island-Cape Bathurst 
area can be seen to support the core area hypothesis 
in two ways. First, it is a geographically and perhaps 
ecologically marginal area that was colonized and 

eventually abandoned. Second, technological similari- 
ties between those who lived there and people in the 
core area were greatest at the time of colonization 
and can be seen to have diverged over time. After 
500 years of occupation, the material inventory of 
people in the periphery appears to have been stylisti- 
cally and technologically out of step with develop- 
ments elsewhere in the Dorset homeland, a pattern 
that may, in fact, foreshadow the demise of this and 
other populations in the periphery. 

While the predictions of the core area hypothesis 
have been affirmed by the results of post-SAR research 
in the vicinity of Banks Island, work in Labrador since 
1 973 has tended to challenge the validity of the model, 
at least in its unmodified form. Labrador has been the 
site of an intensive research effort, which began prior 
to the SAR meeting (Fitzhugh 1972b, 1976b; Tuck 
1975b, 1976b; Tuck and Fitzhugh 1986). Since that 
time, continued work by members of the Torngat 
Archaeological Project has documented a more or 
less continuous occupation for the area north of Nain 
from the early Paleoeskimo period until ca. 650 B.P. 
(Cox 1978, 1988; Fitzhugh 1980a, 1980b; Jordan 
1 980). However, Fitzhugh notes that radiocarbon dates 
are lacking from the time between 1400 and 1000 
B.P., suggesting the possibility that the area was aban- 
doned during that time. This situation has parallels in 
the core area; Maxwell (1 985:21 6) notes a lack of sites 
dated between A.D. 200 and 500 in all areas of the 
core except the head of Foxe Basin and the north 
Baffin coast. 

Paleoeskimo peoples appear to have colonized the 
area south of Nain later than they did the northern 
Labrador coast. It appears that Paleoeskimo people 
began pushing south along the coast a few centuries 
after 3000 B.P., since it is at that time that Groswater 
Dorset people occupied the Buxhall (Fitzhugh 1976b) 
and Postville (Loring and Cox 1 986) sites, as well as 
various sites on the Quebec North Shore (Pintal 1 994). 
It is also during this time that Paleoeskimo people first 
reached Newfoundland. Evidence for their presence is 

1 1 4 


seen in the extensive Groswater Dorset occupations 
at Philips Garden East at Port au Choix (Renouf 1 991 , 
1 994) and Factory Cove (Auger 1 986), and by the first 
appearance of Newfoundland cherts in Labrador as- 
semblages at this time (Steven Cox, personal commu- 
nication 1 990). The archaeology of Labrador does not 
conform to the patterns predicted by the core area 
hypothesis because the expected cycles of coloniza- 
tion and abandonment either do not occur or do so 
only once. In addition, there does not appear to be a 
distinct Labrador-style of Dorset, a situation which prob- 
ably reflects continued interaction between people 
there and those in the core. 

It is not my goal here to provide an update of 
demographic patterns in all the areas where Paleo- 
eskimo research has been conducted since the SAR 
meeting. Rather, it is to show that the perception 
of Igloolik as the only area continuously occupied 
throughout the Paleoeskimo period was in part an 
artifact of the uneven distribution of research con- 
ducted prior to 1 973. As a result of research following 
the SAR meeting, it has become clear that the demo- 
graphic patterns in some areas are in close accord 
with those predicted by the core area hypothesis, 
while those in other areas clearly are not, a situation 
that, as Cox (1 978:1 1 5) notes, suggests the existence 
of multiple core areas or problems with the concept 

In order to assess the continued utility of the core 
area concept in Eastern Arctic archaeology, it is first 
necessary to examine those features of the archaeo- 
logical record that it explains and the explanatory 
mechanisms it invokes. To my mind, the core area con- 
cept attempts to explain two distinct but interrelated 
elements of Paleoeskimo prehistory. These are: (1 ) de- 
mographic changes over space and time, and (2) the 
perceived homogeneity of tool styles seen through- 
out the Dorset homeland at any given time.' In gen- 
eral, these are ultimately viewed as the cultural conse- 
quences of local or regional fluctuations in the produc- 
tivity and predictability of the arctic ecosystem. 

The Core Area Concept and Paleoeskimo 

The perception that peripheral parts of the Dorset area 
were periodically abandoned and recolonized was one 
of the things that originally led to the promulgation of 
the core area hypothesis. These peripheral areas are 
perceived to be ecologically marginal, at least from 
the perspective of human adaptation (e.g., Fitzhugh 
1 973, 1 976a). Resources in them are less abundant or 
predictable and more prone to fluctuation than those 
found in the core area, with the result that people liv- 
ing in the periphery either starved to death or aban- 
doned their homes and retreated back to the stability 
of the core area in search of food. When, after a few 
years or several generations, resources again became 
sufficiently stable and abundant, people recolonized 
the periphery, presumably because of population pres- 
sures within the areas still occupied. Thus, the first part 
of the core area hypothesis is an attempt to explain 
the spatial-temporal elements of human population 
dynamics in the context of adaptive responses to a 
harsh and fluctuating environment. As noted above, 
these demographic patterns are seen as cultural con- 
sequences of regional variation in Eastern Arctic eco- 
logical productivity and predictability (Fitzhugh 1 973). 

If these changes in paleodemography are ultimately 
tied to perturbations in the physical environment, it 
should be possible to correlate them with events and 
trends recorded in the paleoclimatological record. Sev- 
eral researchers have attempted such correlations (e.g., 
Fitzhugh 1 973, 1 976a; Maxwell 1 985; McGhee 1 972a), 
but the demonstration of a concrete link has proven 
an elusive goal. Three factors combine to muddy these 
waters and cast the ship of inquiry adrift in an ice- 
choked sea of speculation. In brief, these are an uncer- 
tainty about the temporal relationship between cli- 
matic and demographic events arising largely from the 
imprecision of the radiocarbon technique; a poor un- 
derstanding of the spatial scale at which such events 
operate; and, most important, continued uncertainty 
about the relationship between the paleoclimatological 


1 1 5 

trends interpreted from proxy data and the status of 
resources on which people were dependent. One need 
only look to the ongoing debates about the implica- 
tions of a projected increase in mean annual tempera- 
ture associated with global warming to see that the 
"on the ground" impact of prehistoric temperature fluc- 
tuations recorded in deep ocean cores and glacial ice 
is poorly understood. Until such time as we can accu- 
rately model the effects of both short- and long-term 
climatic changes on such key variables as the stability 
and migration of animal populations; frequency, inten- 
sity, and direction of storms; sea-ice formation, etc., 
attempts to causally link specific climatic and demo- 
graphic events will remain as speculative as they are 
intuitively appealing. 

Leaving aside the problems inherent in trying to 
relate demographic trends to climatic changes, any 
discussion of population dynamics within a specific 
locale or region as a whole requires that we be able 
to date occupations, or their absence, in either rela- 
tive or absolute terms. The vagaries of dating in the 
Arctic have long been known (e.g., Arundale 1981; 
McGhee and Tuck 1976; Morrison 1989), and this is 
not the place to launch into a new discussion of tech- 
niques or calibration curves. However, recent work 
on calibrating dates to facilitate comparisons in 
Alaska (Gerlach and Mason 1 992; Mills 1 994) is lead- 
ing to a partial rethinking of culture chronology and 
the temporal significance of artifact styles in the West- 
ern Arctic. Similar problems exist in the Eastern Arctic, 
with researchers reporting dates from a variety of ma- 
terials run by a variety of radiocarbon labs using sev- 
eral different assaying and calibration techniques. As a 
result, it is difficult to compare different researchers' 
dates for the occurrence of a particular phase of the 
Arctic Small Tool tradition with even the crude tempo- 
ral confidence inherent in the radiocarbon technique. 
The problem is further compounded by the fact that 
artifacts are frequently used as index fossils, with the 
result that style and time period have come to be 
equated with one another. 

As noted above, the core area hypothesis postu- 
lates that the range of Dorset as a culture expanded 
and contracted in response to environmental stimuli, 
with people abandoning the periphery for the eco- 
nomic security of the core area in times of resource 
stress. From a logical standpoint, it is difficult to envi- 
sion how this would be accomplished, since accept- 
ing groups of half-starved strangers into their territo- 
ries would put the occupants of the core area near or 
beyond the carrying capacity of their environment. 
Given the existence in hunter-gatherer societies of 
mechanisms such as post-partem sex taboos and in- 
fanticide, which are directed at sustaining population 
levels below the carrying capacity of the environment, 
it seems unlikely that people in the core area would 
accept large numbers of what are essentially economic 
refugees, since doing so would put them at risk. Else- 
where in the Arctic where population movements to 
escape starvation have been documented (e.g., Burch 
1 980), they have generally involved numbers of people 
that are small, and geographic areas much more lim- 
ited than those being modeled in the core area hy- 
pothesis. I do not question that perturbations in the 
physical environment caused starvation or forced mi- 
grations in prehistory, but I would simply point out 
that the idea of people withdrawing in large numbers 
into the core area conflicts with what we know of 
hunter-gatherer behavior from the ethnographic record. 

To my mind, one of the strongest criticisms of the 
core area concept is that it relates all episodes of aban- 
donment to changes in the physical environment. As 
Rowley (1985) has shown, mobility was an important 
factor in allowing Inuit during the historic period to 
escape environmental and social stress. Her findings 
suggest that there were long-distance migrations of 
relatively large numbers of people, migrations that I 
maintain could cause an area to appear abandoned. In 
contrast to the model proposed by the core area 
hypothesis, however, Rowley indicates that in over 
half of the incidents where a cause for the migration 
was known, it was factors in the social rather than the 

1 1 6 


physical environment that motivated people to move. 
I see no reason to think that the desire to escape so- 
cial tensions did not cause similar movements during 
the Paleoeskimo period, and suggest that the difficulty 
in relating some episodes of abandonment seen in the 
archaeological record to variations in the physical en- 
vironment may in some cases relate to their social ori- 
gins rather than to the concerns raised above. 

Core Area Concept and the Perception of 

The second aspect of the archaeological record that 
the core area concept has been used to explain is the 
perceived stylistic homogeneity of contemporary arti- 
facts from sites all over the Eastern Arctic. In contrast 
to the biogeographical elements of demography dis- 
cussed above, this is a cultural phenomenon, as arti- 
facts are held to reflect the ideas of their makers. To 
the extent that they are judged similar, these artifacts 
are taken as proxy data that represent the shared na- 
ture of ideas held by their makers in different regions 
of the Dorset homeland. Paleoeskimo tool kits gener- 
ally exhibit a high degree of stylistic and technological 
conservatism, and the similarities between contem- 
poraneous artifacts from widely separated sites are 
striking. When new artifact forms such as "tip-fluted" 
triangular endblades appear, they are thought to show 
up almost simultaneously in sites as widely separated 
as Philips Garden in western Newfoundland (Harp 
1964a) and T-l on Southampton Island (Collins 1 956b), 
a phenomenon that led one elder to remark that: 

Throughout both Pre-Dorset and Dorset 
periods, there appears to have been a 
regularity of interaction among these geo- 
graphically distinct groups. This is marked by 
exchange of technological information to the 
degree that minor discrete style differences 
on artifacts appear to emerge almost 
simultaneously throughout the core area. 
(Maxwell 1985:82) 

Thus, the core area concept is also used to explain the 
movement of ideas and information. In essence, the 
core is seen to act as a central clearinghouse, serving 

to disseminate the latest information on, among other 
things, harpoon-socket styles, tip-fluting techniques, 
and burin-like tool hafting protocols. There is an as- 
sumption that cultural developments moved from core 
to periphery, not the other way around, and not be- 
tween peripheral regions. 2 

Recently, Sutherland (1 992) has challenged the idea 
of homogeneity, and suggested that early Paleoeskimo 
assemblages show greater variation than previously 
recognized. In an argument similar to that raised by 
Arnold (1 980), she attributes this variability to the long- 
term occupation and relative isolation of northern 
Ellesmere Island. Unlike Arnold, however, she sees the 
process of adaptation to local resources as driving the 
changes in tool morphology. At issue here is the ques- 
tion of how we measure variation, since deciding two 
artifacts exhibit significant stylistic or technomorpho- 
logical similarity or dissimilarity entails making sub- 
jective judgments. Such judgments have strong im- 
plications for how we interpret the archaeological 
record because concluding that contemporaneous 
artifacts found in different areas are similar implies, 
at least in core area concept terms, some unspeci- 
fied form of interaction between the peoples in 
question. The corollary of this "if then" hypothesis is 
that dissimilarity is equated with lack of interaction 
(Odess 1998). 

The relationship between formal similarity and in- 
teraction should be phrased as a hypothesis, and can 
be tested independently using archaeological data that 
do not entail subjective or even objective judgments 
of style. The following example should clarify how such 
an approach can aid in interpretation of the archaeo- 
logical record. Recent work at Willows Island 4 (Odess 
1 996, 1 998), a site located on a small island in the 
outer part of Frobisher Bay, indicates that Dorset people 
in that part of south Baffinland continued to make and 
use Tyara Sliced and Dorset Parallel Sliced harpoons 
for at least 400 years after the 300 B.C. date when 
they are thought to have gone out of style elsewhere 
(Maxwell 1985:197). Using only the stylistic criteria 


1 1 7 

normally employed, one would likely argue that the 
Frobisher Bay Dorset were a remnant population cut 
off from interaction with people elsewhere in the East- 
ern Arctic and caught in the isolation of a cultural back- 
water. Such an idea seems untenable, however, in light 
of other archaeological data. Exotic materials, such as 
Ramah chert from Labrador and a distinctive banded- 
brown chert thought to come from the Southampton 
Island area, continue to appear in the Willows Island 
assemblages from this time period, indicating that the 
site's occupants maintained contact with their coun- 
trymen elsewhere in the Dorset homeland while at the 
same time making artifacts that were distinct from 
those made by the people with whom they were in 
contact (Odess 1 998, n.d.). 

Willows Island is on the margin of the core area as 
illustrated by Maxwell (1985:81). The continued per- 
sistence of the sliced harpoon forms suggests that the 
cultural influence of the core, at least in terms of style 
and technology, was less than previously thought. In 
light of the continued persistence of these harpoon 
forms alongside contact with those who had aban- 
doned their use, we are confronted by questions about 
the meaning of style in prehistory. The core area hy- 
pothesis has assumed style to be a reliable temporal 
indicator across regions, an idea that conflicts with 
the example given above. 

More than any other class of artifact found in arctic 
assemblages, harpoon heads have been treated as in- 
dex fossils that are thought to indicate their period of 
manufacture. Indeed, changes in harpoon head form 
are the indicator of the transition from Early to Middle 
to Late Dorset (Maxwell 1985:198). Given the persis- 
tence of "sliced" (Early Dorset) harpoon forms well into 
the period generally considered to be Middle Dorset 
and the evidence against treating the occupants of 
Willows Island as an isolated population, it is clear that 
our assumptions about the temporal sensitivity of arti- 
fact styles need to be reexamined. In light of the data 
from Willows Island, it is tempting to suggest that the 
Frobisher Bay Dorset were a culturally conservative 

group who were aware of new technology but saw 
no reason to abandon the old. Alternatively, one might 
argue that at least during the time period in question, 
harpoon heads were meaningfully constituted objects 
of material culture. Following this line of reasoning, 
people in Frobisher Bay used them consciously to sig- 
nify membership in a quasi-ethnic group distinct from 
their close-socketed harpoon using neighbors in the 
Central Arctic, as well as to hunt animals. Similar ideas 
about the dual functions of material culture have been 
put forth in general terms by Hodder (1986), and at 
least hinted at by Gerlach and Mason (1 992) for the 
Western Arctic. Whether or not harpoon heads at Wil- 
lows Island 4 served these dual functions is a question 
to be answered by future research. In any case, if work 
on Paleoeskimo demography is to continue in a pro- 
ductive fashion, it will require firmly dating occupa- 
tions of individual site components independent of 
artifact style. 


From the above, it might appear that I think the core 
area concept to be so fraught with inherent prob- 
lems and so superseded by research results since it 
was first articulated that it has little or no utility for 
contemporary students of arctic archaeology. This is 
not the case. The core area concept represented a 
significant step forward from purely culture-historical 
concerns to provide some of the first explanations of 
the regional-level patterns observed in the archaeo- 
logical record and their linkages with ecological con- 
cepts of stability and instability. While the passing of 
time, with its attendant theoretical and methodologi- 
cal developments and ever-growing midden of data, 
has highlighted some of the weaknesses in its original 
formulation, the core area concept remains useful in 
part because it is readily modified in light of new de- 
velopments. For those of us just embarking on careers 
in arctic research, it continues to be a model of de- 
mography and interaction against which we can 
test our own findings. Dissonance between our results 

1 1 8 


and those predicted by the model serves to highlight 
significant elements of our data and to point us in 
useful directions for future research. 


Research on the Paleoeskimo archaeology of Frobisher 
Bay was supported by funds from the Smithsonian 
Scholarly Studies program and the Smithsonian's Arc- 
tic Studies Center, and from the National Science 
Foundation, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the 
Polar Continental Shelf program and the Wenner-Gren 
Foundation through dissertation research grants 
awarded to Lynda Gullason (McGill) and Anne Henshaw 
(Harvard). Logistical assistance was provided by the 

Science Institute of the Northwest Territories/lqaluit 
Research Center. The help of many people made the 
Willows Island research possible, including project crew 
members, the Pishuktie family of Kuyait and Iqaluit, and 
the staff at the Canadian Museum of Civilization's Col- 
lections Management Services section. Finally, I would 
like to thank the elders to whom this volume is dedi- 
cated for leaving us a rich legacy and an exciting field 
in which to toil. 


1 . See Odess n.d. for discussion. 

2. See Cox 1 978 for a discussion of interac- 
tion between regions outside of the core. 


1 1 9 

"The r ant) Tjistory of the (^.ape [Dorset 


In describing the discovery and early history of the 
Dorset culture, I thought I would take an autobiographi- 
cal approach because this would tell you what one 
Eastern Arctic archaeologist used to do when he was 
young— and that is what Elders are for. 

My story begins in Cambridge in June 1935. I had 
graduated in natural sciences and had then spent two 
years pursuing what the university described as "dili- 
gent study" in archaeology. I had no idea of how to 
earn a living. One morning a man called Tom Manning 
came to see me. I did not know him but he brought a 
letter from Louis Clarke, the eccentric and respected 
curator of the University Museum of Archaeology and 
Ethnology, who brought style and unpredictability to 
the museum's activities. His letter was short: "My dear 
Rowley, This is to introduce Mr. Manning with whom, 
I hope, you will go to the Arctic. He will explain things 
to you. Yours sincerely, Louis Clarke." 

Tom told me he was planning a small expedition 
to the Canadian Arctic, to start in the spring of 1 936, 
and he asked if I would join it as the archaeologist. As 
nobody else had said they wanted an archaeologist, I 
found myself a member of the British Canadian Arctic 
Expedition. The others were Reynold Bray as ornitholo- 
gist, Pat Baird as geologist, and Peter Bennett as sur- 
veyor. We were all in our early twenties, single, and 
had been up at Cambridge, except Reynold, who was 
married and had been sent down from Oxford. 

Tom's plan was to explore the east coast of Foxe 
Basin, then the least known part of the Arctic. Most of 

the west coast of Baffin Island was shown on maps by 
a dotted line because no white man had been there. 
Bernhard Hantzsch, a German zoologist, had done the 
most to map this coast, but he had died there in 1 91 1 
from trichinosis through eating raw polar bear meat. 
The Danish Fifth Thule Expedition had planned to com- 
plete the map of Baffin Island. In 1 923, Peter Freuchen 
tried, became separated from the Inuit he was travel- 
ing with, lost his way, and froze a foot. The archaeolo- 
gist, Therkel Mathiassen, tried later the same year, but 
an outbreak of dog disease stopped him. 

The Eastern Arctic in 1 935 was very different from 
today. It was the home of about 5,000 Inuit, with a 
few Hudson's Bay Company trading posts to serve 
them. At some of the posts there was a Royal Cana- 
dian Mounted Police detachment and perhaps a Ro- 
man Catholic or Anglican mission. The only contact 
with the south was a ship that called at each post 
once a year and stayed a day. She brought in supplies 
and mail and took away the fur. There were no aircraft. 
Most posts had a radio receiver but not a transmitter. 
There were no schools. The only medical services were 

1 2 1 

two small hospitals, and the only way to reach them 
was by dog sledge in winter or by very small boat in 
summer. The total white population was little more 
than fifty. Very few Inuit lived at the posts. Most sur- 
vived by hunting and trapping from small camps along 
the coasts. Away from the posts, one had to depend 
on oneself or on the very dependable Inuit. 

Tom's plan was to sail in a 30-foot whaleboat from 
Churchill to Southampton Island, to winter at Repulse 
Bay, from there to cross Foxe Channel to Baffin Island, 
and then to sail north along the unknown coast. We 
were to set out early in 1 936 and to be away for two 
or three years. 

We did not have much money. The Royal Geo- 
graphical Society lent us surveying instruments and 
awarded us a small grant. We were given a few other 
grants, none of them large, and generous manufactur- 
ers provided us with Chivers jam, Cadbury chocolate, 
Barneys tobacco, and Haig whisky. The Canadian Gov- 
ernment allowed us to import our food and equip- 
ment without paying duty. Our grants and the value of 
what we were given totaled about $600, which of 
course went further than it would today, but nothing 
like far enough. The rest we had to make up ourselves; 
we were not rich, so we had to do everything as 
cheaply as we could. 

I read all I could find about the area and its archae- 
ology. By far the most important book to me was 
Mathiassen's report describing the Thule culture he had 
found in the old stone houses so common in the East- 
ern Arctic, which he thought had been built by the 
Tunit of Eskimo tradition. I also saw Diamond Jenness's 
short article in the Geographical Review, suggesting that 
there was more to Eastern Arctic archaeology than 
just the Thule culture. I had time for a quick visit to 
Copenhagen to meet Therkel Mathiassen, Kaj Birket- 
Smith, and Helge Larsen, and to see what the Fifth 
Thule Expedition had collected. 

We sailed from England in March 1936 and trav- 
eled first to Ottawa where I met Diamond Jenness. He 
helped me in every possible way, and showed me the 

arctic archaeological collections in the National Mu- 
seum, pointing out how some of the artifacts were 
quite different from Mathiassen's Thule types. They 
looked older and never had drilled holes, which were 
very common on the artifacts that Mathiassen had 
excavated. Jenness believed they must belong to a 
different and earlier culture, which did not know about 
the bow-drill, and which he had called after Cape Dorset 
because a collection from there included many of these 
strange artifacts. Mathiassen and several other archae- 
ologists did not agree that there was a Dorset culture 
distinct from the Thule. Mathiassen considered it a 
peculiar, very locally stamped phase of the Thule, and 
thought there was no archaeological evidence for a 
pre-Thule culture in the Eastern Arctic. When I asked 
Jenness what an archaeologist could most usefully do 
in the north, he said the Dorset culture would not be 
fully accepted until a site was found that had only 
Dorset material. Jenness also introduced me to the ar- 
chaeological and arctic fraternities in Ottawa, some of 
whom the other elders may remember: Erling Porsild, 
W.J. Wintemberg, Percy Taverner, Rudolph Anderson, 
Slim Monturejohn Cox, Douglas Leechman, and Ken- 
neth Chipman. 

We left Churchill early in June in a thirty-foot 
whaleboat that we called the Polecat, and sailed to 
Bay of Gods Mercy on Southampton Island. Here there 
were some old stone and whale bone houses for me 
to excavate, but it proved to be a fairly recent site 
where the Sadlermiut had lived, probably until they 
died early this century from an epidemic. There was a 
single Dorset harpoon head, presumably collected by 
some Sadlermiut archaeologist. Clouds of mosquitoes 
made excavation miserable. They covered the old 
houses like a blanket. We smoked as much as we could, 
rolling our own cigarettes, but my hands were always 
greasy with ancient Sadlermiut blubber, and old blub- 
ber tastes bad and smokes even worse. For the arctic 
archaeologist the greatest technological advance in 
the last half century has been the development of 
effective fly repellents. 

1 2 2 


11.1/ Abverdjar ca. 1934 

We then sailed to Wal- 
rus Island to kill a walrus 
for dog food. I found some 
old houses there, which I 
started to excavate, but 
my work was cut short 
when our boat was caught 
on a lee shore, swamped, 
and nearly wrecked. We 
were able to repair the 
Polecat, but could not start 
her engine. The houses I 
excavated, when not dry- 
ing our equipment or re- 
pairing the Polecat, yielded 

both Dorset and Thule material, but there were only 
four or five possible camping places on this small rocky 
island. The same sites and the same stones had been 
used again and again and any stratigraphy had been 
destroyed. We had to leave when a favorable wind 
allowed us to sail to the Hudson's Bay Company's post 
at Coral Harbour where we were to meet the Nascopie, 
the annual supply ship. While waiting for her, I spent 
two or three days digging in some old houses at 
Kudluktok, a few miles west of the post, but there 
was no Dorset material. 

After the Nascopie had come and gone, I went 
to Coats Island with a party of Inuit. Unfortunately, we 
all caught the "ship's cold," an annual event, and some 
of us were very sick. As a result, we did not reach the 
north of the island where I knew some Dorset material 
had been found. The few sites I could reach were all 
very recent. After returning to the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany post, Pat Baird and I crossed Southampton Island 
by sledge to rejoin the Polecat, sail across Frozen Strait, 
and walk to Repulse Bay. 

At Repulse, there was very little dog food. Tom 
decided that Reynold Bray and I would have to sledge 
to Igloolik, where there was always plenty of walrus, 
and spend the winter there. We could not start until 
Christmas when there would be enough snow for 

traveling. In the meantime, Reynold and I had to learn 
how to drive dogs, build snow houses, and other nec- 
essary skills. 

We left Repulse Bay on December 21, passed 
where fourteen years earlier to the day Peter Freuchen 
had lost his way, and then his foot, before eventually 
reaching Igloolik. Here, a solitary Roman Catholic priest, 
Father Bazin, was living with the Inuit. The closest 
trading post and the nearest building that would not 
melt in the spring were three hundred miles away. 

When Father Bazin heard I was an archaeologist, 
he told me about some artifacts the Inuit had found 
when digging turf for their autumn houses on Abverdjar, 
a nearby island (fig. 11.1). They looked different from 
the artifacts that were found in the old houses at Igloolik 
Point, and he had made a collection of them. He said I 
could have them if I went to Abverdjar where he had 
left them. Next day I sledged there and brought them 
to Igloolik. There were several hundred artifacts of chert, 
ivory, bone, and antler, and a single small knife blade 
of iron, probably meteoric as it had not rusted away; 
none were Thule, and they all appeared to me to be 
either known or likely Dorset types. 

Reynold and I had learned a lot during our journey 
to Igloolik. We had learned we could travel with dogs 
on our own in midwinter. We had also learned it was 


1 2 3 

more efficient, more comfortable, and much more in- 
teresting to travel with Inuit. We decided we would 
not return to Repulse Bay but would try to complete 
the coastline of Baffin Island by traveling with two Inuit 
to the east. I won't describe this journey. We were 
lucky and managed to reach the point where Hantzsch, 
coming from the south, had to turn back. We also found 
a great peninsula and a large low island lying some 
miles off the coast. 

I then made my way to Pond Inlet and on to Arctic 
Bay, where I learned at the post that there were sev- 
eral groups of old houses that I could reach to exca- 
vate that summer. I dug at four places, but everything 
I found was fairly recent. At one site I even dug up a 
rusty umbrella frame in what appeared to be the old- 
est part and where I had hoped to find some indica- 
tion of the Dorset culture. That summer the Nascopie 
took me south. 

In Ottawa, I showed Jenness the collection Father 
Bazin had given me. He confirmed that it was all Dorset 
culture with some types that were new to him. 

Back in Cambridge, I worked on the material I had 
collected, but I realized I had made a great mistake in 
not returning to Igloolik to excavate the site at 
Abverdjar. That summer I suddenly made up my mind, 
went to my bank, bought a ticket, and was back in 
Canada within a week. My Scientist and Explorers Li- 
cense and other permits were still valid, and I reached 
Churchill in time to sail in the annual supply schooner 
to Repulse Bay. Mathiassen's Naujan site was close to 
Repulse, but it was too wet and too late in the season 
to excavate. I was surprised to find some pieces of 
disintegrating native copper in the houses that 
Mathiassen had partially excavated but had subse- 
quently been disturbed. The only serious digging I did 
there was for my spade, which I had carelessly left on 
the ground before an unexpected and heavy snowfall. 
It took me three days to find it. 

I now had to get by sledge to Igloolik, three hun- 
dred miles to the north. An Inuk I knew agreed to take 
me as soon as we could travel by sledge. Most of our 

load had to be dog food. We also had to carry every- 
thing I would need for a year. Nothing I lost, broke, or 
used could be replaced. 

We reached Igloolik early in February. I would not 
be able to excavate until the middle of June at the 
earliest, and this gave me time for some exploration. I 
had, of course, read Boas's Smithsonian report on the 
Central Eskimo. It included a map showing routes that 
the Inuit told him were used for travel. All were well 
known except one that ran from Foxe Basin across 
the mountains of Baffin Island to Analaurealing, a fiord 
in Baffin Bay now called Cambridge Gulf. The Inuit at 
Igloolik told me that they did not know of anybody 
who had ever followed this route, and I decided to 
spend the next two or three months trying to find if it 
existed or if Boas had been misinformed. I would also 
discover what the country was like, as no white man 
had ever been there and only a few Inuit caribou hunt- 
ers had been inland where the route was shown. 

I set out with two men and a boy. We managed to 
find a way across Baffin Island as marked on Boas's 
map, though some parts were rather difficult, particu- 
larly the steep descent to the east coast. Here we had 
to throw all we had over a precipice before traversing 
down a very steep, snowy slope with the sledges 
turned upside down. Then we went to Pond Inlet and 
to Arctic Bay and from there back to Igloolik. On the 
way we often stopped at Inuit camps. Waking up one 
morning in a camp between Analaurealing and Pond 
Inlet, I saw that I was not in a snow house as I had 
thought. A stone supporting the roof was visible 
where the canvas lining of the house was incom- 
plete. Close inspection showed that it was a stone 
house, and I felt I was in the Thule culture. I began 
to doubt Mathiassen's conclusion that the present 
Inuit represented a different culture, and were not 
descended from the Thule. 

It was still too early to dig so I made another jour- 
ney, this time to an island to the east, which Mathiassen 
had seen and named Koch Island but had not been 
able to visit. From the highest point of Koch Island I 

1 24 


had a very good view to the south and southwest of 
a much larger island not shown on any map. I could 
not cross to it because open water lay between it 
and me. 

I returned to Igloolik and went on to Abverdjar. 
Most of the snow had melted, and I could see a gradual 
slope from which the Inuit had been cutting turf for 
their nearby autumn houses. There was little sign of 
occupation where the slope was undisturbed— just a 
few faint circular hollows in the turf, three or four yards 
in diameter. Up until then it had been assumed that 
the Dorset people, like the Thule, had lived in stone 
houses. With the help of two young Inuit, I spent July 
and August excavating, finding more than a thousand 
artifacts, including two of native copper; none of them 
were Thule. They all lay in the lower part of a thin layer 
of soil under the turf or on the underlying sand. There 
was no indication of walls, and some flat stones we 
found on the sand seemed to form partial pavements, 
but they did not appear to be related to the faint 
hollows. We had minimal equipment— knives, a shovel, 
and a tape measure, but I could lay out a base line and 
measure from it the position and depth of each arti- 
fact. We could also determine heights above sea level. 
We had no trouble netting enough fish and shooting 
enough game to feed ourselves. 

There can be few archaeological pleasures greater 
than excavating a rich late Dorset site. Something can 
emerge from the thawing ground at any time and at 
any place and may prove to be a particularly beautiful 
carving, an exciting harpoon head, or something com- 
pletely unexpected. I remember a piece of antler carved 
with a number of faces, more of which became visible 
as the soil around it slowly thawed. Eventually, there 
were about thirty faces, so expressive we could al- 
most imagine them talking to us. We put unworked 
bones in a pile, and experienced hunters had no diffi- 
culty in identifying them. They represented walrus, ring 
and bearded seals, polar bears, caribou, hares, and 
very many foxes, but no large whales, narwhal, white 
whale, or musk ox. 

Only unusually poor weather detracted from an idyl- 
lic summer. We had a succession of Inuit visitors, first 
by sledge and then by boat. They said they had come 
for a cup of tea. I think their real purpose was to make 
sure that nothing had happened to us. 

Early in September I returned to Igloolik Island be- 
cause a ship was expected to bring supplies to the 
Mission. This gave me an opportunity to spend a few 
days excavating at Arnacotsiaq, where there were some 
Thule houses. The ground was already beginning to 
freeze, but I found these houses had been built where 
there had been an earlier Dorset camp. 

In mid-September, the ship arrived bringing every- 
thing to establish a Hudson's Bay Company post at 
Igoolik. She also brought the news that war had bro- 
ken out two weeks earlier. I sailed south with her, reach- 
ing Montreal a month later. In Ottawa and with Dia- 
mond Jenness's very considerable help, I wrote a brief 
account for the American Anthropologist of the Cape 
Dorset culture and the site I had excavated at Abverdjar 
(Rowley 1 940), before joining the Canadian Army and 
sailing for Europe. 

This was how one archaeologist spent his time in 
the years just before the Second World War. Condi- 
tions are very different now. On an expedition, archae- 
ology was only one of several studies and an archae- 
ologist only one of several scientists. Often the needs 
of the others would have priority. To spend the short 
summer excavating, one had to live in the North for a 
whole year and one had to do something else as well 
as archaeology— in my case it was mapping and ge- 
ography. Mathiassen had written reports on geol- 
ogy and material culture. Jenness had carried out stud- 
ies of linguistics, anthropology, and folklore. Unless one 
was excavating near a post, supplies and equipment 
were limited to what could be carried, along with dog 
food, on a sledge journey, which in my case was more 
than three hundred miles. Food was anything that was 
available locally— in my case mainly walrus. Biting flies 
were a torment, and at their worst on days that were 
otherwise ideal for digging. 


1 2 5 

There were also great advantages. I lived with the 
Inuit and no one could have been nicer. I learned how 
they lived, hunted, and traveled— something that ev- 
ery arctic archaeologist should know. There was still a 
lot to be discovered in the North, and the by-products 
were sometimes as important as the archaeology. We 
completed the map of Baffin Island, rediscovered a 
route across it, and added two islands totaling about 
1 ,000 square miles to Canada. I should add that, though 
they were new to us, the Inuit had known about them 
for generations. There were other by-products. For ex- 
ample, the Inuit brought me some archaeological speci- 
mens wrapped up in the skin of a bird they had shot. 
They told me it was not a common bird, and they 
were right. When I took it to the National Museum, it 
was identified as a fieldfare, a bird that was then un- 
known in North America. 

When the war was over, I returned to Canada. I 
would have liked to return to arctic archaeology, but 
by then I had a wife and family to support and not 
enough money to do both. Diamond Jenness tried very 
hard to get a grant for me so I could write up in more 
detail what I had done, but without success. The Ca- 
nadian government and scientific foundations had little 
interest in arctic archaeology in the years immediately 
following the war. As a result, my career became con- 
cerned with living Inuit rather than dead Eskimos. Since 
then, my major contribution to arctic archaeology has 
been to father an Eastern Arctic archaeologist, whose 
paper apears below. I now go back to Igloolik every 
summer to excavate, but I have to do what she tells 
me. I have to use a small brush where I would have 
used a snow-knife and a shovel. She is always highly 
critical of the way I excavate, but in those days we 

were trying to paint a bigger picture, to which we are 
now adding ever finer detail. 

As a footnote, I would like to include a short letter 
I found only while preparing my paper for the Elders 
Conference. Between the pages of a reprint of Dia- 
mond Jenness's article in the Geographical Review, "A 
New Eskimo Culture in Hudson Bay," that I had been 
given in 1 93 5 was a handwritten letter from Jenness 
to A. C. Haddon, Reader in Anthropology at Cam- 
bridge University. It may make some of the younger 
archaeologists envious of their elders. 

Department of Mines, 

Victoria Memorial Museum, 


Feb. 17, 1926 

Dear Dr. Haddon: 

I wonder if this little article will interest you? 
Eskimo history grows more and more 
complex the more we learn, and every new 
theory seems to go a year later into the 
wastebasket. Just at present I have this 
feeling; that 1000-2000 years ago there 
flourished two Eskimo civilizations. One 
(Thule culture) extended from N. Alaska to 
Hudson Bay and N.W. Greenland; the other (C. 
Dorset) centred around Hudson Strait, 
reached to the north of Baffin Island and 
even to Ellesmere Land, and probably 
extended throughout the Labrador Peninsula. 
While peculiar in many respects, this C. 
Dorset culture shows strong Indian (Algonkin, 
etc.) affiliations, and probably represents the 
legendary "Tunnit" of modern Eskimo tradi- 
tions. I have other wild notions and theories 
floating in my head that I dare not put to 
paper. But this summer, if all goes well, I 
hope to visit Bering Strait and do a little 
digging. Who knows what luck I shall have? 

With very kindest regards. 
Yours sincerely, D. Jenness 

What he found, of course, was the Old Bering Sea Cul- 
ture to add to his discovery of the Dorset. 


fVom /\larneric to j\|u ngu vile 


When I was invited to attend the Elders Conference 
and give a paper, my first intention was to talk of 
Nunguvik. But I was told that, since this was a histori- 
cal meeting, perhaps I should rather tell you how I 
became an archaeologist. Even though I was not com- 
pletely convinced of the interest of the subject, I de- 
cided to comply. By the way, since archaeology is not 
my main profession, I still consider myself an amateur 

I must say that during my classical studies I was 
always interested in archaeology and prehistory. Be- 
fore I joined the Oblates, I studied at the Saint Sulpice 
seminary in Paris where these interests were a tradi- 
tion. It was there that Abbe Breuil had studied, as well 
as two other priests, Fathers Bouyssonie and Bardon, 
who had discovered the first Neanderthal grave at La 

When I left France for Canada in 1 938, however, I 
had no idea that I would one day be digging in the 
permafrost to find traces of prehistoric man. While liv- 
ing with the Dene in Northern Manitoba, I had found 
some stone points while preparing the ground to build 
my house at Little Dutch Lake. Later, Indians brought 
me different samples of prehistoric stone industry and 
even a very old pistol that might have been lost by 
Samuel Hearne on his way to the Coppermine River. 

But it was only when I was sent to Pond Inlet in 
1 944 that I had the opportunity to see, for the first 
time, specimens of the Thule culture, which were 
brought to the mission by local Inuit: this was not just 
stone material but also carved bone and ivory pieces. 

When I went to Igloolik in 1 946, I spent the first 
part of the summer at Alarnerk, on the mainland, just 
south of Igloolik Island, where an important camp had 
been established in order to hunt walruses. Most of 
the people in the camp were members of the family of 
Ittuksarjuaq, the man whom white people used to call 
the "king." He had died two years before, but his widow, 
Monica Ataguttaaluk, the "queen," was still very much 
alive. She was a great lady and she had decided to 
take charge of my education. 

At Alarnerk, along the low limestone coast, one 
could see everywhere the rectangular imprints left by 
the summer tents. While walking behind the camp, I 
could see on the raised beaches the traces of more 
tent rings of different shapes. But when I got to seven 
or eight meters above sea level and higher, the shapes 
became rectangular like the tents of the present-day 
Inuit. Monica Atagutaaluk told me, "No, these people 
were not our ancestors: they were the Tunit, the people 
who occupied the land before them." A few days later, 
I saw her digging with a few girls in a midden. In the 
evening, she brought me a collection of her finds. At 

1 2 7 

first sight, I could see that these pieces were very dif- 
ferent from the Thule specimens I had seen in Pond 

It was only the following year, when Father Bazin 
returned to Igloolik, that I heard for the first time of the 
Dorset culture. In the meantime, I had learned many 
stories about the Tunit and became interested in 
the prehistory of the Arctic. I also began to think I 
would like to know more about these Dorset people. 

A few years later, in 1 949, I returned to France and 
met Andre Leroi-Gourhan at the Musee de I' Homme in 
Paris. (Much later, in 1 968, I was to spend a day exca- 
vating with him at Pincevent and the only thing I found 
in that caribou hunting camp in the middle of France 
was rather unexpected: it was a shark tooth. Leroi- 
Gourhan encouraged me to find out more about the 
Dorset culture. 

When I returned to Canada, I was sent to Baker 
Lake and later to Repulse Bay, where I visited Naujan 
and Aivilik. I could not do any digging without a per- 
mit, but I knew that some of the other sites I found in 
the region must be Dorset sites, and I began to map 

In 1953, I was sent to Churchill as editor of Eskimo 
magazine. I was still there the following year when I 
had a visit from Jorgen Meldgaard, who had just ar- 
rived with Dick Emerick on his way to Igloolik. Of course 
I told him what I knew about the Dorset site, and when 
he invited me to join them for the summer, I accepted. 

One of the first sites that we visited was, of course, 
Alarnerk and that is where I got my training. I would 
like to mention that, besides Jorgen and myself, there 
was also one other person, whom I would certainly 
call ajunior member of the expedition. He is the son of 
my late friend Pacome Qulaut, who was our guide, and 
he arrived a few weeks after us; more precisely, he 
was born there. During that interesting summer, I found 
more important sites across Foxe Basin. 

In the following years, I excavated at Baker Lake 
and mostly at Pelly Bay, before going to the Universite 
de Montreal in 1 962 to study anthropology. When in 

Pelly Bay, I had made a collection of string figures, per- 
haps the most comprehensive for a single Inuit settle- 
ment. In doing so, I was not leaving archaeology. As a 
matter of fact, I consider string figures as living archaeo- 
logical specimens. Indeed, a string figure is not only a 
material figure but it comes with a name and some- 
times a story. And, more than once, I found in Alaska 
the meaning of a name that had been forgotten on the 
way to Pelly Bay. 

When I was sent to Pond Inlet in 1 958 to take care 
of the mission, I had only a small congregation and did 
not lack time for archaeological investigation. I began 
to dig at the well-known site of Button Point and was 
able to send the National Museum an interesting col- 
lection of wooden carvings. Unfortunately, the stratig- 
raphy was much disturbed by solifluction. It is there, 
when I was sure of having at last found a pure Dorset 
midden, that I discovered a pipe stem with the words 
"McLean, Dundee"! 

At Mittimatalik, I also excavated the grave of Mit- 
tima, the man who gave his name to the village, and 
found that he was not alone. Lying parallel to his body 
but in the opposite direction were the remains of a 
younger woman. A few years later, just a few meters 
from the Thule house excavated by Matthiassen, I found 
the oldest Pre-Dorset harpoon heads in North Baffin. 

I explored many other sites of the region— one of 
them had the very enticing name of Tunit and I went 
there dreaming of finding the grave of the last Tuniq, 
but I did not even find a single microblade. Later that 
summer, I came to the most interesting of all: Nunguvik. 
There, I found a place that was completely differ- 
ent. At Alarnerk, one could just go from one raised 
beach to the next and move back one century or 
so at the same time. At Nunguvik, on the contrary, the 
altitude did not mean much, because the sea level had 
not changed during the last 2,000 years. It meant 
that, in a place like House 73, which I prefer to call a 
complex, the archaeological layer reached up to 80 
centimeters, and, below 25 centimeters, much of the 
bone and wooden material was well-preserved. I found 

1 28 


there not only stone tools similar to the ones we had 
found at Alarnerk but also their wooden handles. Of 
course, it implied that this particular place had been 
inhabited for several hundred years and that some of 
the specimens could not be dated with as much pre- 
cision as those at Alarnerk. 

There was also another difference. Alarnerk had 
been a settlement of walrus and seal hunters, while at 
Nunguvik caribou dominated the culture and caribou 
bone was the source of most of the local industry. It 
meant that, with the partial exception of the harpoon 
heads, the tool kit of the Nunguvik people was very 
different from that of the Alarnerk people and of most 
other well-known Dorset sites. The result of having 
excavated more than 1 30 square meters is that N73 
has produced one of the most complete inventories 
of the Middle Dorset period in one region, including 
wooden ski miniatures and parts of kayaks. 

Another interesting point was that, while the cari- 
bou bone tools were mostly made in Nunguvik, as 
shown by the great number of reject pieces, they were 
mostly used at Saatut, a fishing and sealing camp situ- 
ated twenty-five miles to the south in Eclipse Sound. 

Most radiocarbon dates coming from Nunguvik are 
generally later than those coming from other sites with 
similar harpoon heads. Whether that is the sign of a 
time lag or not is unclear, but one should remember 
that the dates for T-l , Tyara, and early Dorset sites of 
the Lake Harbour region came originally from marine 
animal samples. At least, Nunguvik has given two 
dates for the same kind of sample. The inhabitants 
of the last Dorset house had already learned from the 
Thule people how to make fire by rotating a piece of 

There are still some problems to solve in the re- 
gion. For instance, the presence in the oldest Dorset 
house of Nunguvik (N46), dated to 350 B.C., and the 
nearby site of Arnakadlak (1 500 B.C.) of what I call, 
along with Meldgaard, "mini-burins" and what Henry 
Collins at T-l called "micro-burins." 

Among the many puzzling pieces found at 
Nunguvik, I also have to mention the presence, at the 
bottom of a crack in House 73, of a piece of wood 
with iron nail marks, dated to 1280 A.D. I am quite 
sure that the people who will be excavating at Nunguvik 
after me will find more surprising things. 


1 29 

Gathered on the deck of the Smithsonian's research i/esse/Tunuyak in 1980 at Nain, Labrador are (front, L to R): 
Douglas Sutton, Bryan Hood, Susan Kaplan; and (rear L to R): William Fitzhugh, William Ritchie, Morten Meldgaard, 
Eric Loring, and Stephen Loring. 


13. 1/ Nukasusutok 2, Structure 2, view north from beach crest 

susutok Z and the paleoeskimo 
Trad ition in Labrador 


This chapter explores the transition from Pre-Dorset to 
Dorset culture in what is sometimes referred to as the 
"Transitional Period" (ca. 3000-2200 B.P. 1 ) or the Pre- 
Dorset/Dorset transition of the Paleoeskimo tradition. 
This period has been a subject of long-standing inter- 
est in Eastern Arctic archaeology as one of the two 
major culture changes of the 4,000 years before Euro- 
pean contact. This subject is explored from the van- 
tage point of a Late Pre-Dorset site at Nukasusutok 
Island south of Nain in north-central Labrador. In addi- 
tion to addressing chronological and technological 
change, Nukasusutok sheds light on social organiza- 
tion, settlement systems, seasonality, and regional pro- 
cesses of the Early Paleoeskimo period. 

The existence of a transitional phase between the 
earliest Paleoeskimo, or Pre-Dorset, cultures and the 
succeeding Dorset culture has been recognized since 
the early 1950s when Eigil Knuth and Henry Collins, 
working respectively in Peary Land and Southampton 
Island, defined the parameters of the period. Knuth's 
Independence II sites with their mid-passage dwell- 
ings and Early Dorset-like tools (3100-2400 B.P.) and 
Collins's Tl Early Dorset collections from Native Point 
(2500-2100 B.P.) bracket a culture change that has 
been variously interpreted as in situ development from 
Pre-Dorset (Taylor 1 968) or as having been stimulated 
by contacts and introductions from Western Alaska 
(Collins 1951b:428; Giddings 1957; Harp 1964a) or 
from the boreal forest zone of Eastern Canada 
(Meldgaard 1960b, 1962). While the forest theories 

were short-lived and the Pre-Dorset to Dorset continu- 
ity hypothesis has become widely accepted, the 
causes, processes, and demographics of the change 
remain one of the most interesting problems in Eastern 
Arctic archaeology (Hood 1998b; Maxwell 1985:1 1 1- 
1 25; Nagy 2000b:l-19). 

Defining the Transition 

In early 1 976, when a Smithsonian team investigated 
a small site at Nukasusutok (HcCh-5) near Nain (Cox 
1978:104), our knowledge of Early Paleoeskimo cul- 
ture was limited. Collins (1 956a, 1 956b) had identified 
a chronological sequence at the Native Point Dorset 
sites, and Helge Larsen's and Jorgen Meldgaard's (1 958) 
work at Sermermiut, Meldgaard's (1960b, 1962) at 
Igloolik, Eigil Knuth's (1 966-1 967) in Peary Land, and 
Harp's work in Hudson Bay (1997) had produced evi- 
dence of chronological change. William E. Taylor, Jr. 
(1968), however, was the first to systematically ex- 
plore the relationship between Pre-Dorset and Dorset 

1 3 3 

culture. Although the Eastern Arctic lacked a large da- 
tabase at that time, his analysis of the Late Pre-Dorset 
Arnapik and Early Dorset Tyara collections from north- 
ern Ungava argued for an in situ development from 
Pre-Dorset to Dorset culture with little, if any, stimulus 
from Alaskan or southern Indian contact. 

Taylor's was the most detailed study of this prob- 
lem until the mid-1970s when Charles Arnold (1981) 
explored it and Early Dorset relationships with Alaska 
in his analysis of the Lagoon site from Banks Island in 
the Western Canadian Arctic. Later, in the early 1 990s, 
Murielle Nagy (1994a, 2000b) conducted a study of 
the transition in the same area that Taylor had worked. 
In her opinion, the proliferation of transition-period data 
since Taylor's study had generated more confusion than 
light because of a heavy reliance on culture ecological 
and evolutionary models; views that were too con- 
strained by regional and personal perspectives; incon- 
sistent use of terminology and classification; and im- 
precise phase and dating assignments. Nevertheless, 
despite her criticism of the ad hoc nature of the schol- 
arly process, her study concluded that the concept of 
a Pre-Dorset/Dorset transition was a valid chronologi- 
cal and cultural stage of a single broader Paleoeskimo 
cultural tradition (Nagy 2000b:l 1 5). She also acknow- 
ledged the need for a more comprehensive review of 
this transition encompassing the entire Eastern Cana- 
dian Arctic and Greenland. 

Eastern Arctic archaeology has long been plagued 
by the lack of well-defined regional phases. It was 
once thought that Meldgaard's geographically cen- 
tral Igloolik data would serve as the standard for a 
sequence against which regional developments could 
be compared, following the implications of the core 
area model described below (Fitzhugh 1976b:147; 
Maxwell 1976b:4-5, 1985:50; McGhee 1976b). How- 
ever, in the absence of the publication of Meldgaard's 
work and with a growing body of data from "periph- 
eral" regions of the Eastern Arctic that suggest the ex- 
istence of multiple "core areas," most researchers have 
questioned the validity of a unified "core area" model 

of Paleoeskimo culture change. In this view interac- 
tions between multiple core areas are more important 
drivers of regional development than are relationships 
with a single nuclear area (e.g. Cox 1 978:1 1 5; Helmer 
1 991 :31 5-1 6; Odess 1 998, this volume; Schledermann 
1 978b). A more interactive, regionally variable core- 
periphery model responding to climatic and environ- 
mental change and predator-prey relations now seems 
to fit existing data better than the original model of a 
single pulsating core region in northern Foxe Basin de- 
veloped at the School of American Research seminar 
in 1973 (Maxwell 1976c). 

Although peripheral to the Central Canadian Arc- 
tic, sites dating to the Pre-Dorset/Dorset transition (ca. 
3000-2500 B.P.) have been found in several locations 














. 2000 





- 3800 



/ 3.2/ Framework of Labrador Culture History as dis- 
cussed in this paper. 

1 34 


in northern Labrador. As in other regions of the Central 
Arctic and Greenland (Andreasen 1 997), the major prob- 
lem in understanding this period in Labrador has been 
the paucity of late Pre-Dorset components. 

Paleoeskimo Systematics in Labrador 

Attempting to rectify a practice of ad hoc classifica- 
tion in archaeological systematics, Knuth (1 977-1 978), 
Plumet (1 982), McGhee (1 982a, 1 996), Maxwell (1 985, 

I 997), and Helmer (1 994) have presented various tax- 
onomies. The system used by Smithsonian researchers 
to classify Eskimo cultures is similar to that presented 
by Helmer (1 994:fig.l ), and is seen here as Figure 1 3.2. 
The only major departure from Helmer is the place- 
ment of transitional Groswater/lndependence II cul- 
tures. Most researchers working in the Central and High 
Canadian Arctic consider the "transitional" Independence 

II phase as a Dorset rather than a Pre-Dorset culture. In 
recent years, archaeologists working in Labrador and 
Newfoundland have argued that Groswater and its 
northern variant, Independence II, are best understood 
as Early Paleoeskimo cultures whose technology and 
tool styles demonstrate a transition from Pre-Dorset 
toward Dorset but whose settlement systems and 
economies are still Pre-Dorset (Early Paleoeskimo) in 
nature (Cox 1978:104; Fitzhugh 1980b; Loring and 
Cox 1986:78; Tuck and Fitzhugh 1986:164). 

The Labrador Paleoeskimo tradition spans the pe- 
riod ca. 4100-500 B.P., from the earliest Pre-Dorset to 
the latest Late Dorset sites. As an entity, the Paleoeskimo 
tradition in the Eastern Arctic has developed as an 
autochthonous tradition, despite its coexistence with 
Indian cultures along its southern forest frontier. Early 
theories of "forest" (i.e., Indian) influence (Collins 1 962; 
Meldgaard 1 962) on Paleoeskimo technology, settle- 
ment forms, and adaptations have been rejected. It 
appears that social boundaries between Paleoeskimo 
and Indian peoples to the south were actively, per- 
haps even aggressively, maintained and defended (e.g., 
Fitzhugh 1 972b:l 80-1 97, 1987:149). On the other 
hand, at certain times contacts between Eastern and 

Western Arctic Paleoeskimo groups may have occurred. 
Similarities and dating correspondences between Early 
Dorset and Late Choris and Early Norton cultures in 
Alaska, including such features as soapstone vessels, 
side-blades, ground burin-like tools, and the use of 
ground slate, nephrite, jade, and semisubterranean 
houses (Arnold 1 981 :1 59; Giddings 1 957, 1 960:1 72, 
1964; Harp 1 964a:l 57-1 63) may indicate some type 
of Alaska involvement in Dorset origins. 

The Paleoeskimo tradition is usually divided into 
two major segments, Early Paleoeskimo (EPE) and Late 
Paleoeskimo (LPE), separated by a Transitional Horizon 
that includes elements of both (Maxwell 1997). The 
EPE tradition in Labrador has three culturally and chro- 
nologically distinct units or phases: Early Pre-Dorset 
(EPD), dating ca. 41 00-3500 B.P.; Late Pre-Dorset (LPD), 
dating ca. 3500-3200 B.P.; and Terminal Pre-Dorset 
(TPD), dating ca. 3200-2900 B.P. (Table 1 3.1 ). EPD sites 
are numerous on the coast north of Voisey's Bay and 
have consistent technological and raw material usage 
patterns (Cox 1978). Late Pre-Dorset develops from 
Early Pre-Dorset, but its sites are quite rare. Some of 
the diagnostic features of Late Pre-Dorset technology 
include the presence of relatively small burins that have 
ground faces, angled shanks, and hafting notches; the 
introduction of large triangular endblades, eared scrap- 
ers, notched bifaces; and an increase in microblade 
production. The largest body of LPD data currently avail- 
able is from the Okak region (Cox 1 977, 1 987, 1 988). 
Late Pre-Dorset sites are rare in northern Labrador, per- 
haps due to their loss from submergence and erosion 
in areas north of Saglek (Clark and Fitzhugh 1 991 ; Fitz- 
hugh 1 980b). Their rare occurrence south of Okak, where 
uplift still exceeds the sea-level rise, is more likely a 
result of a social boundary with Saunders phase (Inter- 
mediate) Indian groups, whose sites have been found 
as far north as Nain and Okak. 

The third chronological phase of the EPE tradition, 
Terminal Pre-Dorset, dating ca. 3200-2900 B.P., is 
even less well-known in Labrador than the preceding 
Late Pre-Dorset phase, and it is not certain that TPD 


1 3 5 

Table 1 3. 1/ Labrador Paleoeskimo Classification 

Tradition Sub-Tradition and acronym Phase/Culture and 

Paleoeskimo [PE] Early Paleoeskimo [EPE] 
(4100-2900 BP) 

Paleoeskimo [TPE] 
(2900-2200 BP) 

Late Paleoeskimo [LPE] 
(2500-500 BP) 

Early Pre-Dorset [EPD] 
(4100-3500 BP) 1 

Late Pre-Dorset [LPD] 
(3500-3200 BP) 2 

Terminal Pre-Dorset [TPD] 
(3200-2900 BP) J 

Cros water 
(2900-2200 BP) 4 

Early Dorset [ED] 
(2500-2000 BP) 5 

Middle Dorset [MD] 
(2000-1 500 BP) 6 

Late Dorset [LD] 
(1000-500 BP) 7 

/. Selected sites: Tinutjarvik 1, Brownell Point 1 (Fitzhugh 1980b); Rose Island Q 
Band 4, Upernavik Site K (Tuck 1975b, 1 976b); Nulliak Cove 1 , S25 (Fitzhugh 1984b); 
St. John's Harbor 3, 4 (Thomson 1986); Okak 6 (Cox 1977, 1978); Thalia Point 2, 
Area 19 (Fitzhugh 1976b); Dog Bight L5 (Fitzhugh 1976b, 1976c; Cox 1978). 

2. Okak 5 (Cox 1977, 1978). 

3. Nukasusutok 2 (Fitzhugh 1976b; Cox 1978); Shoal Cove 4, Nuasornak (Cox 

4. Big Falls (Tuck 1975b); Ticoralak 2-5, East Pompey Island (Fitzhugh 1972b); 
Buxhall, Thalia Point 2 A19, Forteau Bay 5 (Fitzhugh 1976b); Postville Pentacostal 
(Loring and Cox 1986); Phillips Garden East (Renouf 1994); Blanc Sablon (Pintal 
1994); Cape Ray Light (Devereux 1966). 

5. Komaktorvik 1 (Nagle 1986); Rose Island 2 (B2), Upernavik J (Tuck 1975b); 
llluvektalik 1 (Cox 1977, 1978); Dog Bight L3 (Fitzhugh 1976b; Cox 1978); Dog 
Bight L3 (Fitzhugh 1976b; Cox 1978); Nukasusutok 12 (Hood 1986). 

6. Koliktalik (Fitzhugh 1976b, 1976c); Avayalik 1 (Jordan 1980). 

7. Okak 3 (Cox 1978); Dog Bight LI (Fitzhugh 1976b; Cox 1978); Avayalik 1 
(Jordan 1980). 

St. Lawrence ca. 1 900 B.P. Its 
distribution includes most of the 
Eastern Arctic and Subarctic 
from the Lower North Shore and 
Newfoundland, west to central 
Hudson Bay and Coronation 
Gulf, and north into North and 
East Greenland. Labrador Gros- 
water peoples continue to fol- 
low EPE settlement patterns and 
adaptation systems, using sur- 
face axial structure dwellings. 
They appear to have used a 
generalized economy featuring 
winter caribou hunting and fish- 
ing on the near interior, rather 
than the intensive winter coast- 
al settlement and hunting prac- 
ticed by Late Paleoeskimo 
peoples. On the other hand, the 
Groswater technology of side- 
notching, ground burins, plano- 
convex end-blades, extensive 
microblade use, and soapstone 
lamps includes precedents that 

originated from a local predecessor. Sites assigned to 
TPD in Labrador include Nukasusutok-2 (Nuk-2) from 
Nain, Shoal Cove-4 in Seven Islands Bay, and compo- 
nents of the Nuasornak site on Okak Bay excavated 
by Steven Cox (1987, 1988). 

Following the TPD period and beginning ca. 2800 
B.P., the Groswater phase becomes a strong presence 
in Labrador and adjacent regions of Newfoundland 
and the northeastern Gulf (Fitzhugh 1976b, 1980b; 
Loring and Cox 1 986; Pintal 1 994; Renouf 1 994; Tuck 
and Fitzhugh 1986). While its origin seems coincident 
in all of these locations, its disappearance displays 
a time lag to the south, ending first in northern La- 
brador ca. 2400 B.P., on the central coast ca. 2200 
B.P., and in Newfoundland and the northeastern Gulf of 

appear as characteristic features 
of the subseguent early phase of the LPE or Dorset 
tradition. For this reason southern Groswater and north- 
ern Independence II are usually considered to be re- 
gional variants of a truly transitional culture in the Pre- 
Dorset-Dorset seguence. 

Nevertheless, Groswater does not appear to be 
directly ancestral to later Dorset culture in Labrador. 
The LPE tradition here begins ca. 2500 B.P. when Tl- 
like Early Dorset culture appears in northern Labrador. 
In addition to the new technological forms noted 
above, Early Dorset brings major changes in settlement, 
including the appearance of sod houses and middens, 
new lithic material use patterns, and an intensified year- 
round maritime adaptation. Because a distinct Gros- 
water culture continued to persist in central and 

1 36 


southern Labrador, the Strait of Belle Isle, and New- 
foundland for several centuries after the arrival of Early 
Dorset in northern Labrador, we interpret the appear- 
ance of Early Dorset as the arrival of new traditions 
and new peoples. The earliest Labrador Early Dorset 
dates (2500 B.P.) are coeval with those at the Early 
Dorset T1 site in Southampton Island. After several 
hundred years during which Early Dorset expanded 
south into Newfoundland and the Gulf, replacing Gros- 
water (and perhaps mixing with it to some degree in 
Newfoundland), a gradual transformation from Early 
Dorset to Middle Dorset occurred with minor style shifts 
and technological innovation. This period is marked 
by a growing economic and settlement orientation to 
maritime resources, the development of semisubterra- 
nean winter houses, the accumulation of deep and (in 
northern Labrador) frozen middens, and an expansion 
of trade networks between Newfoundland, Ungava, 
and the Central Arctic. 

After 1 500 B.P., Middle Dorset culture disappeared 
from the central Labrador coast at the same time that 
the Daniel's Rattle Indian phase (Loring 1985, 1988a, 
1 992) expands north into these territories. This may 
account for the absence in Labrador of the late Middle 
Dorset longhouse complex, which is found in sites of 
this period in most other areas of the Canadian Arctic. 
Dorset reappears in Labrador ca. 1000 B.P. in a Late 
Dorset form similar to that known elsewhere in the 
Central Arctic; it flourishes in northern Labrador as far 
south as Nain, and continues to occupy this region for 
the next 350 years, until it is replaced by southward- 
advancing Neoeskimo Thule groups (Fitzhugh 1 994b; 
Kaplan 1980, 1983). 

As mentioned above, the weakest link in under- 
standing the Labrador Paleoeskimo sequence is the 
Transition Period (ca. 3200-2200 B.P.) when EPE Late 
Pre-Dorset culture was developing into Groswater and 
LPE Early Dorset culture. A better definition of TPD be- 
tween 3200 and 2800 B.P. is needed to resolve these 
problems. Sometime toward the end of this period, a 
new, highly focused transitional cultural complex took 

shape and spread widely throughout the Eastern Arc- 
tic in the form of Independence II, the Igloolik 22 to 23 
meter terrace sites, Groswater, and other regional cul- 
tures. Shortly thereafter, ca. 2500 B.P., a new set of 
forces or impulses crystallized into the LPE Dorset 
tradition. Major features of the Transitional Period in- 
clude: dates and appearances of transitional cultures 
in Newfoundland and Labrador that are nearly identi- 
cal to those from the Central Arctic; the rapid spread 
of a horizon-style group of cultures, including Gros- 
water and Independence II; a time-phased Early Dorset 
intrusion into Groswater territory in Labrador by a group 
that may have been ethnically different; and a strong 
possibility that Indian cultures significantly influenced 
LPD and MD/LD cultures and population movements. 
While acknowledging the validity of the concept of a 
"tightly-constrained" Paleoeskimo tradition when viewed 
in terms of technology and tool styles (Nash 1 976), 
Transitional Period cultures exhibit dynamic demo- 
graphic and economic responses to social and envi- 
ronmental change. These responses are especially evi- 
dent as changes in culture area and territory. The pos- 
sibility of such vitality and response to external social 
and environmental forces has been ignored in most 
reconstructions of early Eastern Arctic prehistory. 

Contradictions: Continuity and Change 

Until recently, continuity and change have been the 
dominant issues in Paleoeskimo studies. Studies of ra- 
diocarbon-dated lithic tool assemblages have been 
used to construct cultural sequences that revealed 
long-term continuity within the Paleoeskimo tradition. 
However, discontinuities have also been noted that 
cannot be easily reconciled with the "steady-state" or 
"gradualist" paradigm that has dominated most ap- 
proaches to Paleoeskimo prehistory (Maxwell 1 985:244; 
Nash 1976). 

The view of Eastern Arctic Paleoeskimo continuity 
has been heavily influenced by perceptions of environ- 
mental conditions that most archaeologists see as 
being relatively stable and biologically unproductive 


1 3 7 

compared to the more dynamic, diverse, and bio- 
logically productive view of the Western Arctic en- 
vironment. As a result, gradualism has become al- 
most a dogma in Eastern Arctic Paleoeskimo stud- 
ies. In northwestern Alaska, several distinct cultures- 
Denbigh, Old Whaling, Choris, Norton, Okvik, Old Bering 
Sea, Ipiutak, and others— are recognized during the 
period ca. 4500-1 000 B.P.; by comparison, during the 
same period of time, the Eastern Arctic Paleoeskimo 
tradition includes only two cultures, Pre-Dorset and 
Dorset, and possibly a third if one accepts the Transi- 
tional Period group as a distinct culture. While our abil- 
ity to detect diversity in Alaska is influenced by the 
presence of pottery, distinct art styles, and greater 
settlement diversity, the less highly styled cultural 
profiles of the Eastern Arctic have reinforced the view 

of Eastern Paleoeskimo as a single, slowly develop- 
ing tradition with relatively little internal diversity 
and few external stimuli from the Western Arctic, the 
boreal forest, or the northwestern Atlantic coastal zone. 
Evidence supporting the gradualist view is found in 
Paleoeskimo adherence to a single homogeneous 
technological tradition, tool styles, settlement types, 
and subsistence adaptations that cut sharply across 
the region's physical and biological diversity, creat- 
ing the impression of a single culture evolving slowly 
over a huge geographical region. Exceptions and gra- 
dations exist, primarily at the peripheries, as in New- 
foundland and Greenland; but the course of Paleo- 
eskimo prehistory overall has been seen as a single, 
slowly emerging pan-regional tradition (Maxwell 1 985; 
McGhee 1996:70, 174). 



1 3.3/ Map of Nukasusutok Island. 

1 38 


On the other hand, the spread of tool 
styles, technological developments, and the 
wide-ranging recovery of distinctive raw ma- 
terials, including chert, musk ox hair rope, 
soapstone, nephrite, and many other mate- 
rials far from their places of origin, suggests 
widespread social networks at various times 
during the Paleoeskimo tradition. This evi- 
dence points to a dynamic, interconnected 
culture that does not appear seriously con- 
strained by environment or external factors. 
The conclusion of this paper will discuss how 
to accommodate these seemingly oppos- 
ing points of view. 

Transition Processes 

/,, cliffs aHy,. 

""W V cliff \vwi//„ 
, >„ iu w v 

- - _ _ grass, shrubs and rock fafl_ — 
< — shore, 700 meters \ 

Structure 1 


Sketch map 

< — n 

I I I 



errace front 

Structure 2 

'■: (exposed gravel) . 

/ terrace crest 


i / 7 

, / ; quartz and 

\ ramah chert \ 

1 r.<3> \ 
1 v » A/>, 

1 ■> - s ^ \ < 

\ /"'A )-. I 


low shrubs and grass , 

1 3.4/ Sketch map of Nukasusutok 2 site area 

What can be said about the process of culture change 
that established the Groswater phase in Labrador? Did 
it develop from the local Late Pre-Dorset culture that 
occupied northern Labrador at the time of the retreat 
of the Maritime Archaic from its northern range, or did 
it originate from the Pre-Dorset cultures of the Central 
Arctic, East Baffin, or Greenland? The crux of this prob- 
lem lies in the period between ca. 3200 and 2800 B.P. 
Few sites have been found dating to this period in 
Labrador, and those that are known have small arti- 
fact samples and are difficult to link directly to other 
Central Arctic Late Pre-Dorset or Greenland Sarqaq com- 
plexes (Gronnow 1996; Larsen and Meldgaard 1958). 

The first site dating to this period in Labrador was 
found in 1975 on Nukasusutok Island on the outer 
coast 20 km southeast of Nain. Consisting of a pair of 
well-preserved structures and a small lithic tool 
sample situated on a high, wind-swept terrace, Nuk- 
2 provides a rare glimpse into the past; its remains are 
so clearly observed that one can imagine being part 
of a small band of pioneers camped on a seaward 
island at the dangerous southern edge of the "Eskimo" 
world some 3,000 years ago. In addition to its chro- 
nology and tool remains, when it was found in 1 975, 
Nuk-2 was one of the first sites in Canada to contain 

Independence II "mid-passage" structures of the type 
identified in Peary Land, North Greenland, by Eigil Knuth. 
Nuk-2 offered an opportunity to explore the Pre-Dorset- 
Dorset transition from the perspective of migration or 
local cultural development. 

The Nukasusutok 2 Site 

During the summer of 1 975, Stephen Loutrel, a wilder- 
ness yachting enthusiast, organized a sailing cruise to 
Cape Chidley, northern Labrador, in his sloop, Lacerta 
(Loutrel 1 975). Loutrel offered a berth to Warren Hofstra, 
who had taken part in Smithsonian field projects in the 
early 1 970s. During a visit to Nukasusutok Island, mean- 
ing "the place where the brothers quarreled" in Inuktitut 
(Wheeler 1953:62-63), Hofstra reported two unusual 
tent rings on a high beach on the island's northeastern 
arm (fig. 1 3.3). 

Nukasusutok 2 (HcCh-5) is located 500 m from the 
northern shore, 21 m above sea level near the crest of 
a 30 m high beach pass. The north side of this beach 
slopes gradually to a protected bay while the south 
side descends steeply in crags and ledges to the sea 
(figs. 1 3.1 , 4). The setting is unusual in that almost all 
coastal archaeological sites in Labrador, except hunt- 
ing blinds, fox traps, and a few other specialized sites, 


1 39 


7 3.5/ B/pod photograph of Structure 1 before excavation 

are found within a few meters of their contemporary 
active shoreline, and those found on high raised 
beaches— such as early Maritime Archaic sites— are 
extremely old (Clark and Fitzhugh 1991; Fitzhugh 
1 972b:24-34). Nuk-2 was also unlike other coastal sites 
in Labrador in that it was situated in a cleft between 
two hills that gave it a poor view of the surrounding 
waters and made it essentially invisible to travelers by 
boat or over the ice. As revealed in Hofstra's sketches, 
the site's architecture— two bilobed tent rings with axial 
passages and stone boxes made of vertically set 
slabs— was also unique for Labrador and resembled 
Independence I and II houses described by Eigil Knuth 
(1954, 1966-1967, 1967) from Peary Land. In 1975, 
almost nothing was known about Early Paleoeskimo 
house types in Canada, although Harp had recently 
found some mid-passage houses in Richmond Gulf and 

on the Belcher Islands (Harp 1975, 
1 976b). The presence of a Peary Land 
house type in Labrador would be im- 
portant because previous research at 
Thalia Point (Fitzhugh 1976b) and 
Saglek (Tuck 1975b) suggested lithic 
tool similarities with Independence I. 
Even closer ties were evident between 
Labrador Groswater and Greenland In- 
dependence II tool assemblages. Given 
the limited knowledge of the day, 
these similarities seemed to link 
Labrador's Early Paleoeskimo cultures 
more closely to North Greenland than 
to the Central Arctic (Fitzhugh 1 976b). 

Dwelling Structures 

The two dwellings excavated in 1 976 
were built on a coarse gravel beach 
25 m north of, and 9 m lower than, 
the beach crest. The general configu- 
ration of the houses is of oval, bilobed 
dwellings whose presumed skin tent 
walls were held down with large 
rounded rocks that had been carried from the active 
beach far below the site. The interior rocks were angu- 
lar slabs taken from nearby outcrops. The Structure 1 
and Structure 2 axial passages were parallel to each 
other, 14 m apart, and perpendicular to the gently 
sloping beach. Both houses were similar in size, 5 m 
wide and 4 m from front to back. The axial hearth 
feature of the northernmost dwelling, SI , was at first 
partly obscured by rocks that had been taken from 
the perimeter wall and piled in the center of the dwell- 
ing, leaving only a small part of the eastern ring intact 
(fig. 1 3.5). This rock pile may have been intended as a 
cache, although no evidence of cached materials was 
found; perhaps it was only meant to secure the tent 
cover after the house had been abandoned. Beneath 
the rocks we found the remains of a rectangular con- 
struction edged with vertically set slabs (fig. 1 3.1 3). 

1 40 


In contrast to SI , the S2 floor was completely in- 
tact and only a few perimeter wall rocks were missing. 
Large boulders located beyond the outer walls prob- 
ably had functioned as guy-line anchors. Both houses 
had flagstone paving along their southeastern, uphill 
(probably rear) walls, but only in SI was the pavement 
bordered with vertically set slabs. In S2, the primary 
entry was through an antechamber at the north end of 
the axial hearth to either side of the hearth box. An 
entry at the south end of the axial pavement may be 
indicated by the absence of wall rocks in this part of 
the ring. 

Both structures exhibited axial features that con- 
tained six similarly constructed architectural subunits. 
Each subunit begins at the north side of the dwelling 
with a large threshold slab. Proceeding upslope to- 
ward the rear of the dwelling, this slab is followed by 
an area containing a four-sided stone box made of 
slabs set deeply into the beach gravel, then by a 2 m 
long, 60 cm wide slab-edged compartment with three 
internal subdivisions, and finally with a second large 
slab at the south (upslope) end of the axial feature. The 
50 by 75 cm standing box at the south end of Struc- 
ture 1 had been made of slabs 7 to 1 5 cm thick whose 
exposed portions 
rose 2 5 to 3 5 cm 
above the beach 
gravel. The Struc- 
ture 2 box (fig. 1 3.6) 
was intact with a 
floor of small thin 
slabs. Its close-fit- 
ting slab walls were 
set 30 to 40 cm into 
the gravel. A large 
slab that tilted up 
against a wall rock 
50 cm northeast of 
the box probably 
had served as a lid 
for the stone oven 

or boiling chamber. Although damaged by the rocks 
that had been piled in the center, the Structure 1 box 
had a similar rectangular shape and its lid lay in the 
center of the crushed feature. Pavements of small round 
boiling stones, which must have been gathered from 
an active beach rather than from the angular gravel of 
the site, were found in the SI and S2 hearth boxes. 

Between the box hearth (Feature 1 ) and the rear 
threshold slab, each axial hearth feature contained a 
2 m long by 60 cm wide compartment bordered by 2 
to 3 cm thick upright slabs. This space, which func- 
tioned as a kitchen and work area, was further subdi- 
vided into three segments by 2 to 3 cm thick slabs set 
into the gravel as transverse dividers. The northern- 
most segment was a fireplace (Feature 2) for heating 
boiling stones in a 1 cm deep, conical slab-lined pit. 
In SI , we found several biface fragments, a microblade, 
and a set of small slabs set on edge in a rosette pat- 
tern. Beneath the slabs was a basal hearth slab lying 
on charcoal-stained sand. The central segment of both 
pavements contained a square, open hearth (Feature 
3) of the type described by Knuth for Independence II 
houses. Its north and south sides were bordered by 
slabs inclined 30 degrees outwards from the base, and 

/ 3. 6/ View Fast of Structure 2 axial passage showing (L-R) stone box hearth (Feature 1 ), 
boiling stone heating hearth (Feature 2), and lamp cooking hearth (Feature 3) 


its lateral walls were made of 1 cm thick, vertically 
set rocks placed inside the thin outer border slabs to 
provide insulation and hold heat. These hearths were 
1 cm deep and had slab bases that were encrusted 
with charred blubber and contained flakes of spruce 
bark and fire-cracked rock. A slab fragment with a notch 
in one side was recovered in the S2 hearth. As in other 
Paleoeskimo sites, these upright notched rocks were 
coated with charcoal and burned blubber stains that 
indicated their use as lamp or cooking vessel supports. 
The remaining meter of the hearth floor of both struc- 
tures was paved with thin flagstones and contained 
no hearth deposits. Part of the SI border edging was 
missing, and a pavement extended out to meet the 
rear wing pavement. In S2, the rear part of the hearth 
floor contained a bed of small cobbles. In both struc- 
tures, wing pavements of thin slabs extended east- 
ward from the hearth floor along the uphill (southeast) 
wall of the dwelling. A large flat rock lay at the south 
end of the S2 axial feature, perhaps serving as a thresh- 
old. The south end of the SI pavement had a large 
boulder resting on the floor pavement between two 
vertical border slabs. 

House Type Comparisons 

While the specific features of the Nuk-2 houses are 
unique for Labrador, axial structures have been found 
at other Paleoeskimo sites in northern and central La- 
brador (Table 13.2). Among those dating to the Pre- 
Dorset period are Dog Bight L5 on Dog Island near 
Nain, whose axial hearth features and quadrilateral 
cobble hearths (Cox 1978:fig. 3a) are similar to Inde- 
pendence I and Sarqaq types; Karl Oom, also near Nain, 

which had two isolated stone box hearths but lacked 
other features or artifacts; Nulliak Cove 1 S-25, which 
consisted of a boulder tent ring similar to the Dog 
Bight LI structures with a boulder-bordered axial struc- 
ture and a central hearth made of four inclined thick 
slabs; and Brownell Point in Seven Islands Bay, which 
featured a tent ring with a well-defined axial structure. 
To this list should be added several sites at Nuasornak 
Island in Okak excavated by Steven Cox (1 988). From 
the Croswater period, axial feature structures are 
known from the Postville Pentacostal site excavated 
by Stephen Loring and Brenda Clark (Loring and Cox 
1 986); from Napatalik North, a tent ring complex with 
axial structures and artifacts north of Hopedale; and 
from St. John's Island 1 in the Nain archipelago. These 
Groswater dwellings have central slab pavements, but 
they are amorphous in shape. There is no attempt to 
define their space with inset slabs and formal arrange- 
ments of hearths and work areas as in Independence II 
and Nuk-2. Early Dorset axial pavement structures have 
been found at Wyatt Harbor on Nukasusutok (Hood 
1981a, 1986) but they were absent from a shallow 
Early Dorset pithouse at Komaktorvik 1 . 

Among these occurrences of axial hearth features, 
which probably occur at less than 1 percent of the 
known inventory of Labrador Paleoeskimo sites, none 
has such well-defined architectural features as Nuk-2. 
Formal axial hearth construction with slab-edged bor- 
ders is rare in the Early Dorset and is not known from 
Middle Dorset sites. However, the construction of a 
formal axial hearth and work floor set within border 
stones reappears in Late Dorset culture in Labrador 
and in the Central and High Arctic (Cox 1 978; McChee 

Table 1 3.2/ Early Paleoeskimo axial structure sites in northern Labrador (See also Cox 1988) 



Borden # 

Culture Date BP 


Napatalik N. 





axial hearth tent ring (hereafter TR) 

Nukasusutok 5 





2 TRs, axial pavements, box hearths, slab insets 

Karl Oom 5 





2 box hearths, no axial feature or TR 

Dog Bight L5 





axial cobble pave., central quad, hearths 

Nulliak Cove 





TR with axial cobble pave., central quad, hearth 

Brownell Pt. 

7 Island 




axial hearth TR 

1 42 


1981:45-55). Despite such differences as larger size 
houses, wider axial pavements, thicker border slabs, 
and different hearth forms, Early and Late Dorset axial 
structures utilize Early Paleoeskimo axial hearth con- 
cepts that for some reason do not appear in Middle 
Dorset structures. 

The presence of lidded slab hearth boxes com- 
bined with the rarity of soapstone lamps and a virtual 
absence of soapstone pots in Early Paleoeskimo sites 
suggests that Nuk-2 people used a different method 
of cooking than Croswater, Dorset, and Neoeskimo 
peoples, who utilized soapstone lamps and pots 
extensively. The presence of sturdy, rectangular slab 
boxes containing small rounded cobbles and bottom 
slabs whose surfaces are not charred or encrusted with 
blubber suggest that these boxes were lined with hides 
and functioned as boiling chambers heated with seeth- 
ing stones. Eigil Knuth (1 966-1 967:1 95) found boiling 
stones in some of his Independence I box hearths. Simi- 
lar boxes have also been found in Ellesmere and West 
Greenland Independence I and Sarqaq sites (Schleder- 
mann 1 990:77, 1 996:62). Independence II sites in Peary 
Land and the Canadian High Arctic contain central axial 
features with stone hearths made of thin, sometimes 
double-walled, boxes (Knuth 1 967:52) that are similar 
to Nuk-2 box hearths, but are placed in the center 
rather than on the end of the hearth feature. In east- 
ern Hudson Bay, Harp (1 997) found boot sole-shaped 
pieces of soapstone (a mineral with high specific 
heat) associated with stone hearth boxes in his In- 
dependence ll-related Tuurngasiti sites in the Belcher 
Islands, suggesting that these unusual artifacts may 
have been used both as boiling stones and boot 

Besides the Belcher sites, the closest parallels to 
Nuk-2 structures are found in Independence II houses 
(Knuth 1 966-1 967:203). Although not identical, struc- 
tures from Delta Terrace, Cape Holbaek, and Lolland 
Lake contain axial features constructed with thin slab 
insets and have centrally placed, inclined slab hearths, 
double-walled slab insulation, wing pavements, and 

oval outlines that compare closely with Nuk-2. As noted 
above, the Independence II stone boxes take a differ- 
ent form and may not have been used for "seething 
stone" cooking. Nor are dwellings of this period in Peary 
Land constructed with foyers or bilobed "figure-eight" 
forms. Radiocarbon dates for the Peary Land Indepen- 
dence II sites fall between ca. 3000 and 2400 B.P. 

McGhee (1 981 : 1 4-20) has reported Independence 
II structures from Port Refuge at the Skull and RbJr-2 
sites. These sites, which were not dated or excavated, 
appear to conform closely to the Peary Land forms, 
having axial pavement features bordered with vertical 
slabs, compartments, and central box hearths, but they 
also lack the heavy stone boxes found at Nuk-2 and 
at Schledermann's Buchanan Bay Transitional sites. In 
the latter region, Late Pre-Dorset sites have cobble- 
bordered axial structures and only at the Transitional 
Skraeling Island 5 (Feature 1) is there a suggestion of 
Independence II type construction, but without heavy 
stone boxes (Schledermann 1990:1 56). 

Houses similar to Nuk-2 are also known from Tran- 
sitional components reported by Harp (1970, 1975, 
1 976b, 1 997) from his Richmond Gulf and Belcher Is- 
land Tuurngasiti sites, and at Atchukaluk (HbGc-4) and 
Innalialuk (HaGe-3). Harp's preliminary reports indicate 
the presence of axial hearth constructions with central 
boiling boxes and inclined-slab fire hearths, Groswater- 
type assemblages, and 2500 B.P. radiocarbon dates. 
Similar finds have been made in Richmond Gulf at 
Atchukaluk (Gosselin et al. 1 974). 

From these comparisons it is clear that the inter- 
pretation of "mid-passage" houses developed by Knuth 
for his Peary Land sites applies with minor modifica- 
tions to the Nuk-2 dwellings. Knuth (1 966-1 967:1 99) 
has pointed to the similarities between his Indepen- 
dence mid-passage dwellings and the ethnographic 
Sami Lappkota winter tent structures, which feature a 
linear hearth floor with a central fireplace separating 
two lateral skin-covered sleeping areas. The same pat- 
tern exists at Nuk-2. In both of the Nuk-2 dwellings, 
artifacts and debitage were found in or adjacent to 


1 4 3 

the hearth passage, most commonly near the south- 
em end of the axial feature, which was paved and 
would not have been covered by skins or bedding. 
The lateral spaces in both houses had gravel floors. 
These areas had few slabs and contained almost no 
flakes, tools, charcoal, burned blubber, or fire-cracked 
rock, suggesting that they had been covered with hides 
as in the Sami case. 

While they have often been called a "mid-passage 
hearth" or "axial pavement," the purpose of these fea- 
tures in Paleoeskimo dwellings appears to have been 
to differentiate the "dirty" heating, lighting, and food 
preparation space in the center of the dwelling from 
the sleeping and "clean" work areas on either side of 
the axial hearth. Raised-slab edging helped to sepa- 
rate these domains. In contrast to the heavier paving 

stones used as flooring at the ends of the feature, the 
thin 1 to 2 cm thick pavement areas within the hearth 
complex could not have withstood foot traffic, nor 
would there have been room for walking between the 
closely spaced clusters of hearths it contained. These 
areas, therefore, must have served as hearth floors and 
as "counters" for cutting meat, preparing foods, and 
making tools. Hence, at least in this Paleoeskimo con- 
text, "axial hearth" is preferable to "mid-passage" to 
describe this feature, and the term "axial hearth dwell- 
ing" is a more accurate term for the dwelling type than 
"mid-passage" house. When this form of construction 
reappears in Late Dorset culture, in houses that were 
much larger in size and with paving stones that were 
much thicker, the term "hearth passage" is probably 
an accurate description. 










400 - 
-0- H 

500 - 

1 500 - 


2500 - 



1 5 







1 7 



242526 27 




* 2 sigma calibrated ages 

[J Early Dorset 
^ Croswater 
[] Saunders Indian 
^ Pre-Dorset 

Culture Boundaries 

— Same Site Clusters 

/ 3. 7/ Radiocarbon dates for Late Paleoeskimo and Early Dorset sites from Northern Labrador to New- 
foundland (number key is found in Table 1 3.3) 

1 44 


While generally oval in shape, both of the Nuk-2 
structures have a distinct bilobed form that results from 
the wall rocks holding down the skin coverings of the 
lateral sleeping "rooms" that curve in to meet the ends 
of the axial structure on both the north and south 
sides of the dwellings. Although we could not identify 
doorways per se, the presence of debitage and tool 
remains in two small concentrations (middens? work 
areas?) several meters south of S2 and the necessity 
for uphill entry suggests that the antechamber region 
facing the sea provided the primary access to the 

dwelling. The bilobed shape raises questions about 
how the structure was constructed and covered and 
whether the dwelling might have had doorways at 
both ends of the axial hearth. The presence of a wing 
pavement on the east side of each house and its ab- 
sence on the west side may also be significant in terms 
of social or work arrangements, and may also signify a 
rear entry capacity. 

A curious feature of some Paleoeskimo dwellings 
is the presence of round rocks or boulders resting on 
the floor pavement at one or both ends of the axial 

Table 13.3/ Radiocarbon dates for the Labrador Pre-Dorset-Dorset Transition (See fig. 13.7) 


Site Name 


Laboratory Number CI 4 date 



1 ittle Ramah Rav 






Rose Island O (Band 41* 



3830±1 1 5 

d r~ 

~i a c\~7 /")jao TTnc\ i a A A 
z4y/ (Z lOo-ZZyb) 1944 


Don Rinht 1 5 

i_/ y uiui ii i i 




d r 

~) A 1 A ( O ~) O A 1 ~7 C CI 1 CI o 

Z4/U {ZZoy- 1 /DO) Iblo 


Thalia Point 2 Al 9 





^4oy yZ 1 5 b-Z\j4Z) 1 byb 


Double Island (B Hood) 





~)~> ~7~) f~)f\11 1QQ1\ l 7QA 

zz / z [Zvjd i - i yo 1 ) 1/oU 


Okak 6 




D f 


ZKjyjy ( 1 obo- 1 /do) Iblo 


Nulliak Cove S25 

1 \l U 1 1 1 Ul\ * \J V l_ J L J 





1 OCA / 1 CAT\ 1 1 DC 

1 oby (1 lOZ) 1 1 DO 


^hn^il fovp 4 

Jl Ivul V_ W v C i 





1 4bU ( 1 Zy5- 1 Zo5) IUIU 


Ni i k 1 1 1 1 ^ i itnk 7 





icaamj~7q mi \ i nr i 
1 bUU ( 1 3 /o- 13^1) 1 Ub 1 


St Inhn'^ Inland 1 





A"7A / O A ~7\ C C\ A 

y/U (oU/) bU4 

] | 

Thalia Point 2 A25 





iaco /707 aaz.\ ">i c 

1 Obo (/o/-bbb) Z 1 b 

1 2 

Pnct\/illp Ppnt^roct;} 1 

r uji vine rciiicn-v/jicii 




D C 


/nc7 i i oc\ A7c 

] 3 

Pn^tvillp Ppnt^ro^ta 1 





4o 1 (3oo) 1 /4 

1 4 

Pn^t\/i 1 Ip PpntPirn^t^ 1 

r UjI vine r c i i l cx c vj _> l a i 




D C 

A 1 f\ / jCA *)*)0\ 1 1"7 

1 5 

RpH Rork Point 

l\CLJ l\uLl\ r Ul 1 u 





/4b \6dZ Z 1 Z) AD b 1 

1 5 

F^^t Pnmnpu l<^ 


GSC-1 367 



iaia /7C7 ii i 

IUIU (/b/-bbz) Z 1 1 

1 7 


UUAI lull 



2720+1 25 


1 8 






410 (380) 1 73 


Ticoralak 2 


GSC-1 1 79 



1257 (826) 412 


Ticoralik 3 


GSC-1 21 7 



800 (400) 73 

2 1 

Ticoralak 5 





893 (41 1) 90 


Blanc Sablon (EiBg-43a) 





790 (506-41 5) 390 


Blanc Sablon (EiBg-43a) 



2 570±90 


900 (792) 410 


Blanc Sablon (EiBg-14) 





800 (41 1) 21 1 


Blanc Sablon (EiBg-29a) 





800 (516-433) 380 


Blanc Sablon (EiBg-29a) 


UQ-1 753 

2300±1 50 


800 (393) AD 1 


Phillips Garden East 


average of 1 4 dates 241 1 


759 (480-41 3) 401 


Phillips Garden West 


average of 7 dates 2260 


401 (383) 208 


Rose Island Q, B2 (ldCv-6) 



2485+1 85 


1048 (760-563) 126 


llluvektalik (HhCk-1) 





1258 (1047-101 1) 833 


West Dog Is. 





1005 (823) 664 


Dog Bight L3 (HdCh-3) 


SI-21 53 



790 (41 1) 380 


Dog Bight L3 (HdCh-3) 





800 (753-448) 390 


Komaktorvik 1 (IhCw-l) 



251 5+70 


820 (766-662) 410 


Komaktorvik 1 (IhCw-l) 





810 (762-595) 400 


Komaktorvik 1 (IhCw-l) 





86 (AD 1 32) AD 340 


Komaktorvik 1 (IhCw-l) 



21 10±70 


380 (168-125) AD 49 


Saunders LI 





1921 (1 731-1695) 1 530 


Hillsbury 3 





201 1 (1 742) 1 533 


Thalia Pt. 5 





1873 (1679-1619) 1430 

4 1 

Thalia Pt. 5 





1 540 (1409) 1114 


Hillsbury 3 





1440 (1292-1262) 1010 


Smooth Land Pt. 





1430 (1213-1 1 16) 927 


Red Ocher 


GSC 1280 



1 740 (1 384-1 323) 831 

All material dated is wood charcoal, except: ** blubber date corrected for cl 2/1 3, *** fat/charcoal mixture 
*Rose Island Site Q (B2) assemblage contains both Croswater and Early Dorset (incipient tip-fluting) elements and 
may be a mixed component. 


1 45 

feature. The large rock at the south end of the hearth 
passage in S2 may have been used to secure a door 
flap, but observations at other Labrador Paleoeskimo 
sites suggest that rocks placed at the ends of axial 
features had a special, possibly ritual, function. We have 
found large "blocking" rocks on the thresholds of Late 
Dorset structures in Seven Islands Bay, and at Newell 
Sound in Frobisher Bay where a huge "four-person" 
boulder had been rolled onto the entry pavement when 
the house was abandoned. Knuth (1 966-1 967:fig. 3) 
also illustrates a large rock at the end of an axial fea- 
ture at Lolland Lake. Keeping evil spirits from one's 
house is a serious business in many arctic societies. 
Southwest Alaskan Yup'ik people barred evil spirits with 
ritual strands of grass (Reed 1 982). Perhaps Paleo- 
eskimos used rocks to block the passage of harmful 
spirits into their houses when they were not in use. 

Radiocarbon Samples 

No charcoal was found in SI, but two samples for 
radiocarbon dating were recovered from the hearth 
areas in S2 (fig. 1 3.7, Table 1 3.3). Sample 1 consisted 
of burned blubber from beneath the basal hearth slab 
in Feature 3, the southern hearth, and sample 2 con- 
sisted of charred spruce (?) bark from below the south- 
east corner of the hearth slab of this same feature. 
Sample 1 returned an age of 331 5 ± 85 B.P. (SI-2988). 
A CI 2/1 3 correction brings this age to 3055 ± 85 B.P. 
or slightly later, given its likely marine mammal source. 

Table 1 3.4/ Artifact finds at Nukasusutok 2 (HcCh-5)* 

Artifact Type Structure 1 Structure 2 Total 
Number (%) Number (%) Number (%) 


10 (.16) 

10 (.1 1) 

Burin spalls 

1 (.09) 

7 (.11) 

8 (.11) 

Burins (1 ground) 

1 (.09) 

10 (.16) 

1 1 (.16) 


4 (.36) 

8 (.13) 

12 (.17) 


1 (.02) 

1 (.01) 


1 (.09) 

9 (.15) 

10 (.14) 

M-blade cores/frags 

4 (.36) 

16 (.26) 

20 (.28) 

Utilized flakes 




Without flake tools 

1 1 (.98) 

61 (.99) 

72 (.98) 

With flake tools 




* of 11 7 artifacts, 1 09 have excavation provenance. 

13.8/ Tools from Structure 2 (cat. # [a] 61 , [b] 68, 
[c] 34, Id] 37, [e] 45, [f] 70, [g] 98) and one from 
Structure 1 (h; cat. # / 23) 

Although charcoal stains were noted beneath F2 and 
a minute amount of burned blubber was noted in F3 
of Structure 1 , these samples were too small for the 
dating methods available in the mid-1 970s and unfor- 
tunately were not collected. 

Collection Description 

Nuk-2 contained no bone or organic remains other 
than charcoal. The excavated lithic collection consists 
of 109 cataloged artifacts, 97 of which were found in 
S2 (ca. 61 diagnostic tools) and 1 2 (7 tools) in SI (Table 
13.4). The largest concentration of lithic tools and 
debitage was found outside the entrance of S2. SI 
finds were restricted to the interior of the structure. In 
both dwellings lithics were parsimoniously used. Virtu- 
ally all tools were small and heavily utilized, and 
debitage consisted of flakes that were 1 cm or less in 
size. Raw materials utilized for artifacts include grey, 
greenish, banded, and speckled chert from the Cape 
Mugford region north of Okak, quartz crystal, and 
metabasalt (used for celts only). Mugford chert was 
the predominant raw material used for biface produc- 
tion. Ramah chert was less common but was used for 
making three of the nine endblades recovered. Quartz 
and quartz crystal, both of which are locally available, 
were the predominant raw materials for chipped stone 
tools. Debitage collected from S2 contained 231 small 

1 46 


flakes of grey Mugford chert; 1 9 flakes and 6 chunks 
of quartz crystal; 1 2 flakes of speckled Mugford chert; 
1 3 flakes of green Mugford chert; and 1 flake of Ramah 
chert. Little debitage was recovered from SI , but what 
was found was similar to that in S2. No soapstone or 
Groswater chert (of southwest Newfoundland origin) 
was found in either structure. 

For purposes of analysis, all of the 72 diagnostic 
artifacts from the site are included as a single sample. 
Only 12 artifacts (HcCh-5:l 21 -1 32) were cataloged 
from SI : an unground burin (figs. 1 3.1 Ok, 1 3.1 2a), a 
grey chert burin spall, a Ramah chert biface tip (fig. 
1 3.1 1 g) and midsection, a chert biface tip (figs. 1 3.8h, 
1 3.1 2q), a side-notched crystal endblade (figs. 1 3.1 1 h, 
1 3.1 2x), quartz microblade cores (figs. 1 3.1 1 i , j), a 
chert microblade midsection, and a crystal utilized flake 
(fig. 1 3.1 1 k). The entire assemblage (excluding utilized 
flakes) includes 1 celts and celt fragments, 1 micro- 
blades, 20 quartz crystal core fragments, some with 
microblade facet scars, 1 1 burins, 8 burin spalls, 1 2 
bifaces, 1 endscraper, and 37 utilized flakes. 

13.9/ Celts from Nuk-2 Structure 2, cat. nos. (a) 5, 


Table 13.5/ Celt Metrics from Nuk-2, Structure 2 
Specimen Length 

No. (cm) 

2[13.9d] 12.5 
3[13.9g] (2.32)* 
5 [13.9a] 7.9 
19 [1 3.9e] (3.2) 
28[13.9f] (5.8) 

29 [1 3.9c] 8.7 

30 [n.p.] 8.7 
32 [1 3.9b] (4.5) 

"parentheses indicate broken specimen 
Celts (n=l 0) 

Nuk-2 celts (fig. 1 3.9) were made of a rough but fine- 
grained metabasalt rock that may have a local origin 
on the island. They were prepared from 9 to 1 5 mm 
thick slabs whose edges were roughly flaked or bat- 
tered into shape and whose working ends were ground 
in two facets to fashion a rounded convex bit with a 
symmetrical axe-type edge (table 13.5). Lateral con- 
striction to facilitate hafting is found only on one speci- 
men. The Nuk-2 celts are unlike Pre-Dorset celts, which 
are made of akmak (silicified slate) flaked into a quad- 
rilateral cross-section (Cox 1 976) but are nearly identi- 
cal to Groswater types (Loring and Cox 1 986). 


32, (c) 29, (d) 2, (e) 19, (f) 28, (g) 3 

1 47 

Burins (n=1 1 ) 

The Nuk-2 burins (1 from SI , 1 from S2) 
are variable in form and range from speci- 
mens with fully ground distal tips and faces 
to those with no trace of grinding. All are 
right-handed and have one or more 
unground lateral spall scars. Specimen 75 
(fig. 1 3.1 Oj) is a spall from the distal end of 
a burin whose lateral sides are ground flat 
and whose tip is ground round. Specimen 
93, missing its base, has ventral grinding, 
multiple spall removals, and a distal tip 
that has been spalled and lightly polished. 
Specimen 90 is a right-handed burin with 
a single spali removed and light ventral 
polish; its amorphous shape may result 
from having a rotated spall surface. Speci- 
men 66 has ventral polish and a polished 
round distal end. Specimens 27, 36, and 
67 (fig. 1 3.10e-g) are narrow-bladed burins with pol- 
ished round tips. Specimen 27 has a flat base and 
waisted hafting constriction, while 36 has a prepared, 
rounded base. Specimen 76 (fig. 1 3.1 0a) is a proximal 
fragment of a ground burin-like tool whose hafting 
modification is similar to that of Groswater implement 
styles. Specimen 24 and 35 (fig. 1 3.1 Oh, i) are small 
spalled burins with light polishing on their ventral sur- 
faces. These styles are similar to burins found at the 
Late Pre-Dorset Shoal Cove 4 site in northern Labrador. 
Specimen 121 (figs. 1 3.1 Ok; 1 3.1 2a) from SI is a large 
unground burin with multiple spall surfaces made on a 

The Nuk-2 burins display considerable variation and 
are similar to specimens from LPD collections in Labra- 
dor, Tyara, Port Refuge, and Devon Lowlands. The single 
unground specimen lacks the formal preparation and 
trimming of EPD forms. Others (fig. 1 3.1 Oe-i) have the 
small size, waisted bases, unground faces, and spall 
surfaces characteristic of LPD complexes. A few (figs. 
1 3.1 0a, c; 1 3.1 2b, d, h) are larger incipient side-notched 








1 1 1 

13. 10/ Burins and spalls from Nukasusutok 2, cat. nos. (a) 76, 
(b) 90, (c) 56, (d) 93, (e) 27, (f) 36, (g) 67, (h) 24, (i) 35, (j) 75, 
(k) 121, (I) 33, (m) 31, (n) 53 

forms with ground faces, tips, and spall surfaces. One 
(fig.l 3.1 Oj) is a fully ground distal fragment similar to 
burins from Groswater components, but lacks the 
latter's ground spall removal surface. 

Burin Spalls (n=8) 

Eight burin spalls (fig. 1 3.1 01-n) were recovered, six of 
which display bifacial polish and have tips ground round. 
One has a polished tip but no lateral grinding. Some of 
these spalls are larger than any of the burins recov- 
ered, suggesting that large burins had been reduced 
by attrition. None of the spalls have grinding on their 
spall scars. 

Bifaces (n=l 2) 

Six diagnostic and six undiagnostic fragments were 
recovered. A large biface fragment of banded grey 
chert (figs. 1 3.8a; 1 3. 1 2y), a grey chert stem base (figs. 
1 3.8d; 1 3.1 2p), an asymmetric notched Ramah chert 
biface (figs. 1 3.1 la; 1 3.1 2u), and a small quartz har- 
poon endblade (figs. 1 3.1 1 c; 1 3.1 2v) have parallels in 
earlier Pre-Dorset assemblages. A small notched Ramah 

1 48 


13.11/ Bifaces from Nukasusutok 2, cat. nos. (a) 21, (b) 22, (c) 26, (d) 62, (e) 
69, (f) 57, (g) 130, (h) 122, (i) 128, (j) 125, (k) 131 

chert endblade (figs. 13.11b; 13.12w) and a similar 
notched crystal endblade (figs. 1 3.1 1 h; 1 3.1 2x) sug- 
gest Croswater forms, as does a small notched base 
spall (fig. 1 3.8e). Several undiagnostic fragments were 
also found. No grinding was present on any bifaces, 
and no plano-convex sections occurred. These bifaces 
resemble Pre-Dorset forms and appear transitional to 
Groswater types, especially the small notched knives. 

Endscraper (n=l ) 

A single quartz crystal piece with a steeply worked 
distal edge (fig. 1 3.1 1 d) was found, although this may 
possibly be a reworked microblade core. It is prob- 
ably an ad hoc type and does not conform to either 
Pre-Dorset or Groswater endscraper forms. 

Cores (n=20) 

A large number of crystal microblade cores, blanks, 
and core fragments were recovered. Most were small 
in size, ranging from 1 .5 to 2.0 cm in length. Only six of 
these have clear blade removal scar surfaces, and many 
are unmodified crystals. On worked cores, an acute 
striking platform had been created for blade removal. 
No chert cores were found. 

Microblades (n=l 0) 

Seven crystal and three 
chert microblades were 
found. Two of the chert 
specimens were basally 
notched for hafting and 
one of these (fig. 1 3.8f) 
has its tip ground into a 
"boot creaser" tool. 
Most were irregular 
specimens with widths 
from 5.0 to 7.2 mm. 

Flake Tools 

Approximately thirty uti- 
lized flakes were recov- 
ered, but all were small, 
thin flakes (1.0 to 1.5 cm 
wide) with limited areas of edge modification, much 
of which could have been caused by frost action in 
the coarse gravel matrix. No carefully prepared flake 
tools were found. 

The Nuk-2 collections provide interesting compari- 
sons with other Paleoeskimo complexes in Labrador. 
Technologically, this small assemblage has more Pre- 
Dorset than Groswater or Dorset characteristics. The 
scarcity of microblades, high percentages of burins and 
biface endblades, frugal use of chert resources, limited 
use of Ramah chert and quartz crystal, and dominance 
of Mugford cherts are all typical of Labrador Pre-Dorset 
technology. The presence of a single unground burin 
in a complex dominated by spalled and minimally 
ground burins is not unexpected in a late Pre-Dorset 
complex, although it would be in a Groswater assem- 
blage in which spalls and burin tips and faces are al- 
ways ground. The presence of asymmetric bifaces (PD), 
large, serrated stemmed bifaces (PD), side-notched 
bifaces (GW), waisted or notched small burins (LPD/ 
GW), and broad, flat celts (GW) represent a mix of late 
Pre-Dorset and Groswater traits. Stylistically, Nuk-2 is 
still "Pre-Dorset" and lacks characteristic features of 


1 49 

1 3.1 2/ Drawings at 1:1 scale of selected artifacts from Nukasustok 2 showing range of tool types found at 
the site and the variety of manufacture techniques employed. Ground surfaces are indicated by fine hatching. 

1 50 


Groswater although it displays movement in this di- 
rection. Its placement as a Terminal Pre-Dorset phase, 
therefore, seems warranted on both dating and typo- 
logical grounds. 

Spatial Patterns 

The preservation of the Nuk-2 architecture provides 
some insights into social behavior. As noted previously, 
the sleeping areas produced only a few scattered tools 
and no debitage and must have been covered with 
bedding. Lithics were primarily recovered from the 
hearth complex and adjacent regions, near pavements, 
and in the foyer and workshop or midden areas imme- 
diately downslope from the entry of S2. 

In SI , other than a single burin from near the wall of 
the east room, all artifacts were found in the vicinity of 

the hearths and the northwest entry pavement (fig. 
1 3.1 3). A small Ramah chert side-notched knife blade 
was found in Hearth 1 , and two biface tips, a biface 
midsection, a utilized flake, and a microblade were 
recovered from the conical hearth pit in Hearth 2. Five 
quartz crystal cores were found with the only concen- 
tration of debitage in the dwelling west of the box 
hearth. No external middens or workshop areas were 
noted. These patterns suggest that the hearths, espe- 
cially the pit hearth, were used as work and mainte- 
nance areas and that microblade and lithic tool pro- 
duction took place in the entry area. The most signifi- 
cant feature of this distribution, however, is the occur- 
rence of most tools in the axial hearth and the overall 
paucity of artifacts and debitage, suggesting a rela- 
tively brief occupation and limited lithic supplies. 

B Surface 

Backing rocks, 

for cache 

• 2N/14E 

Gravel floor 


• 0N/16E 

A biface 
o microblade 
■ burin 

burin spall 
O crystal core fragment 
flake scraper 
vertical slab 

1 3.1 3/ Structure 1 after excavation with artifact distribution 


Structure 2 was more productive in terms of 
artifacts and produced 61 diagnostic specimens 
(fig. 1 3.14). Again, the dominant pattern was the seg- 
regation of finds between areas that are presumed to 
have been covered or left open when in use. Only six 
implements were found in the gravel (presumably skin- 
covered) lateral compartments, whereas more than fifty 
implements were found in or immediately adjacent to 
the hearth, pavement, and midden areas. The spatial 
distribution of artifacts is provided in Table 1 3.6. A 
few artifacts and flakes were also recovered in a small 
external midden or work area. 

Lateral sleeping areas have few finds and seem to 
have been areas of limited lithic tool production or 
discard. The west room contained a quartz core, two 

microblades, a celt, two bifaces, and an interesting 
notched microblade with a polished tip for hide 
working (fig. 1 3.8f), possibly as a boot-creaser. The 
east room contained a biface fragment and two 
microblades. A greater concentration of finds occurs 
in the uncovered areas of the dwelling. The east wing 
pavement contained a broken celt bit (fig. 1 3.9e) and 
a utilized flake. The west wing pavement had three 
ground burins (fig. 1 3.1 Of-h), a burin spall, a celt with a 
broken poll end (fig. 1 3.9c), two biface fragments (fig. 
1 3.8b, 1 3.8e), and a quartz core. Hearth F3 contained 
sixteen tools: crystal cores, microblades, burin spalls, 
and points (fig. 1 3.1 la, b). Six celts were found in or 
near Hearth F2, including one complete celt (fig. 1 3.9a), 
a celt poll fragment (fig. 1 3.9b), and three celt blanks 

1 3.1 4/ Structure 2 after excavation, with artifact find locations 
Clusters of artifacts outside the dwelling area are indicated by CI, 
C2, etc. See also Table 13.6. 


N mag. 




1 52 


(fig. 1 3.9d, e, f); these would have been used in 
chopping wood, bone, or frozen meat. The 
"boiler box" (Fl ) contained two biface fragments 
(fig. 13.8c, d), a burin spall, two burins (fig. 
1 3.1 Oe, i), and a utilized flake. The foyer collec- 
tion included a variety of production and main- 
tenance tools in a thin scatter — a scraper, a burin- 
like tool (fig. 13.10c), microblades, and burin 
spalls — while in the foyer and outside the dwell- 
ing along the north wall five concentrations of 
tools and debitage were found that might be 
interpreted either as middens or as activity ar- 
eas (fig. 1 3. 14 CI -C5). Cluster 1 (eastern midden) 
produced four burin-like tools (fig. 13.10a, b, d, j), mi- 
cro-blades, and flake tools; Cluster 2, a utilized flake; 
Cluster 3, a burin-like tool tip (fig. 13.1 Oj), and two 
utilized flakes; Cluster 4, a microblade and adze frag- 
ment; and Cluster 5 (inside the foyer), the densest con- 
centration of debitage, produced Mugford chert and 
quartz crystal flakes, a burin-like tool and spall, an 
endscraper, crystal cores, and a microblade. 

As in SI, the distribution of these finds empha- 
sizes the importance of activities in the hearth and 
pavement areas within the structure and in the space 
in front of the dwelling. However, these areas do 
not exhibit much evidence for the segregation of 
specific activities, as most tool types are distributed 
evenly between internal paved areas, the axial hearth, 
and the exterior. It is interesting to note that formal 
scrapers are almost absent from the entire Nuk-2 as- 
semblage. On the other hand, the large number of celts, 
both broken and complete, and celt blanks suggests 
that heavy-duty cutting and chopping (butchering fro- 
zen meat?) were important activities. Most of the celts 
were recovered at the north end of the hearth area 
where a cache of celt blanks was found. Celts were 
also found on the wing pavements. Small Ramah chert 
cutting knives and a notched microblade knife were 
associated primarily with Hearth F3, and crystal 
microblade cores were found here and along the front 
wall near the foyer. 

Table 1 3.6/ Distribution of Structure 2 finds by area 



Artifact Types 

East room 


Ibif, 2mb, 1c, 1 uf 

West room 


1C, 2bif, lmb, lc 



Stone box 


2blt, lbs, 2bif, 1 mt 


Hearth A 


6C, 2bif, 2c 

Hearth B 


2bs, lmb, 4c, 2uf 



Foyer/Entry [C5] 


1 bit, lbs, lmb, 2c, 

1 s 

East wing 


1C, luf 

West wing 


3blt, lbs, 1C, 2bif, 

1 mb 



East midden [CI, 2] 


3blt, 2mb, 1 luf 

West midden [C3, 4] 


1 bit, lbif, lmb, lc, 






Key: blt=burin-like tool, bs=burin spall, C=celt, bif=biface, 
mb=microblade, c=core, s=scraper, uf=utilized flake 

From this distribution one may deduce that: (1 ) the 
working of bone tools with burins and celts seems to 
have occurred on the rear wing pavements; (2) food 
processing and maintenance activities, using celts and 
small knives, are associated with the axial hearths; (3) 
lithic tool maintenance was conducted almost exclu- 
sively in the foyer and outside the dwelling proper, in 
five areas where debitage, burins, burin blanks, and 
crystal cores predominate. Lacking bone preservation, 
it is impossible to determine whether these areas are 
midden dumps or work stations, but the latter appears 
more likely given the presence of unfinished implements 
and the absence of lithic debris inside the house; and 
(4) most lithic production and use occurred away from 
the sleeping areas. Overall, the light and heat of the 
hearth seem to have created the nexus for social and 
production activities within the house for the axial fea- 
ture contained the majority of the formal tool finds. 


Knuth (1967:32,52) and many others since then have 
cautioned about using faunal remains to determine 
seasonality in situations, as commonly found in the 
Arctic, in which meat killed in one season was cached 
and eaten in another season. For that reason, Knuth 
relied more on the presence of cache structures and 
wall rocks to indicate winter settlement. Ramsden 
and Murray (1994) suggest the opposite, assigning 


isolated hearth structures to winter use and rock- 
ringed axial structures to summer use based on the 
presence of winter game (caribou) or summer game 
(ducks), and local geographic factors. Bielawski (1 988) 
also discusses the problem of determining seasonality 
in Early Paleoeskimo archaeology. Lacking faunal re- 
mains, Nuk-2 seasonality must be approached from 
other directions: 

1 . As noted previously, the location of the 
Nuk-2 houses near the top of an exposed 
beach series, high above and distant from 
the shore, without a view and in a nearly 
"hidden" setting, is without precedent as a 
summer or open-water location for coastal 
Paleoeskimo or Neoeskimo sites currently 
known in Labrador. Occasionally, Dorset and 
Neoeskimo winter sites have been found in 
such settings. 

2. Given the lack of formal architectural 
features in many Labrador Paleoeskimo sites, 
Nuk-2 stands out as having been carefully 
planned and constructed. Such constructions 
are unknown for the many small, shore-side 
Paleoeskimo sites found in Labrador that are 
known or can be inferred to have been 
occupied in spring and summer. The care 
that went into planning the Nuk-2 structures 
indicates attention to details that are more 
consistent with the construction of seden- 
tary, cold season dwellings than with more 
transient warm season dwellings. 

3. Celts have been shown to be an indicator 
of winter seasonality in Labrador 
Paleoeskimo sites. These tools are rarely 
found in the shoreside Pre-Dorset or 
Groswater sites that are abundant in the 
treeless mid/outer coast regions. Celts are 
found at Paleoeskimo sites in forested inner- 
bay regions, such as at the Postville 
Groswater site and in Pre-Dorset sites in the 
Port Manvers Run region of Nain, where 
wood and caribou provide favorable condi- 
tions for Early Paleoeskimo fall and early 
winter settlement. Postville, which contained 
thick deposits of fire-cracked slabs, burned 
rocks, charcoal, and slab hearths produced 
many celts and celt fragments. The presence 
of celts as indicators of cold season settle- 
ment is even more evident in the Late 
Paleoeskimo tradition when celts are made 
of nephrite, a rare material that is carefully 
curated and is rarely found in Dorset summer 
season camp deposits. Celts, however, are 

found frequently in Dorset cold season sod- 
house sites and middens because of the 
increased need during the winter months for 
butchering frozen meat, chopping firewood, 
and production tasks involving roughing out 
ivory, bone, and wood implements. Apart 
from archaeological evidence, in arctic 
ethnographic cultures these activities are 
conducted primarily between October and 

4. Analogy with Middle Dorset sites, where 
there is a clear differentiation between winter 
sod-house dwellings and open-water season 
tent dwellings with slab pavements and 
open hearths, suggests seasonal patterning 
applicable to Early Paleoeskimo settlement 
models. In Middle Dorset spring or open- 
water season camps, lithic distributions 
usually occur in circular patterns around 
central hearths that are interpreted as floor 
deposits in tent enclosures. In many cases, 
these distributions are enclosed within tent 
rings, but in others they may be open-air 
sites. In either case, these scatters often 
seem to fall on uncovered ground, whereas 
in winter dwellings most internal space is 
covered with bedding that restricts lithic 
accumulations to specific exposed hearth or 
work areas. Following this analogy, the 
distribution of Nuk-2 finds in the axial hearth 
area suggests a fall, winter, or spring season 

5. Nuk-2 can be compared with the axial 
structures of the Pre-Dorset, Groswater, Early 
Dorset, and Late Dorset sites whose formal- 
ized, "heavy" construction features and 
presence of fire-cracked rock and encrusted 
blubber are indicative of cold season occu- 
pation. The case is strongest with the Okak 
3, Peabody Point, and Big Head Late Dorset 
sites. The latter follow the architectural 
pattern of the Nuk-2 houses, having carefully 
constructed axial features with border rocks, 
hearths, transverse dividers, pavements, and 
other features. Heavily encrusted lamp 
stands and the presence of thick charcoal 
deposits, extensive cultural deposits, and 
partially excavated floors all suggest late 
fall/early winter occupations of these Late 
Dorset structures, probably from September 
through December. A comparable period of 
occupation seems reasonable for Nuk-2. 

6. Finally, Nuk-2 is located near the fall harp 
seal migration route and would have been 
well-positioned to take advantage of this 
important resource. 

1 54 


This said, one wonders-— if this was a full, winter-long 
habitation— why the paucity of artifacts, especially from 
Structure 1 , and the small quantity of debitage recov- 
ered; the lack of nearby food caches; and the pres- 
ence of outdoor lithic maintenance activity? None of 
these points necessarily require summer seasonality. 
The inception of dwelling construction in the winter 
would have been difficult because of frozen ground. 
All things considered, the evidence from Nuk-2 points 
toward its construction and occupation from October 
through December. 

Settlement Patterns 

Given the paucity of information from Nuk-2 and the 
few other Late or Terminal Pre-Dorset sites in Labrador, 
it is impossible to reconstruct a precise settlement 
pattern at this time. Nuk-2 establishes only one sea- 
sonal point in this system, and it appears atypical since 
no other outer-island winter EPE sites are known, even 
after intensive survey coverage of these habitats. Nor 
is Nuk-2 typical of the preceding EPE tradition, for de- 
spite large numbers of Pre-Dorset sites from the north- 
ern Labrador coast, none except Nuk-2 can be identi- 
fied as a winter settlement. The typical EPD pattern in 
the Nain area is for outer-coast settlement in spring 
and summer and inner-bay (Port Manvers Run, espe- 
cially) settlement during fall; winter sites have never 
been found on the coast. This leads us to believe that 
Early Pre-Dorset people in northern Labrador moved 
into the interior for the winter as they did in Peary Land, 
where they hunted musk ox and fished for char (Knuth 
1 967); in the Central Arctic, Pre-Dorset groups are also 
thought to have utilized terrestrial as well as marine 
resources during the winter (Maxwell 1 985:88-90). In 
Labrador, caribou and char on near-interior lakes are 
the most probable winter quarry, and in this region the 
existence of the forest would have been a major at- 
traction for housing and heat, especially as the EPE 
people lacked large blubber lamps and soapstone 
cooking vessels. It seems likely that a similar pattern 
would have held for LPD. If this is true, the Nuk-2 site, 

which I believe was a winter site, is anomalous, not 
only for the Pre-Dorset but also, given our current knowl- 
edge based on the Postville Groswater site (located in 
the forested inner portion of Kaipokak Bay), for the 
subsequent Transitional Groswater phase. 

In other ways, however, Nuk-2 conforms to the 
known EPE pattern of small settlement size and dis- 
persed demography, in this case as an encampment 
of one or two tents, each occupied, judging from the 
small sites of the structure, by six to eight individuals. 
The small quantity of tools and debitage suggests that 
the site was occupied for only one season, and prob- 
ably for only a few months. Both structures were likely 
occupied at the same time, although SI may have 
been abandoned before S2, accounting for the canni- 
balization of its wall rocks, cache construction, and its 
smaller artifact and flake inventory. Middle and Late 
Dorset winter camps also frequently consist of two 
contemporary dwellings. Nukasusutok and nearby is- 
lands were favored areas for Dorset winter settlements 
in later periods, when two-house communities were 
also the norm, although of larger size. But these sites 
are all situated close to the water and not at high 
locations hundreds of meters from the shore. 

Nuk-2, therefore, appears unusual from a number 
of perspectives. Its topographic position is unique 
among other Paleoeskimo sites known in Labrador; 
and its suggested fall-winter seasonality and outer- 
island location does not fit the typical EPE settlement 
pattern. Furthermore, it is the southernmost LPD site 
currently known in Labrador and seems to have been 
occupied for a very brief period and lacked ample 
supplies of lithic raw material. One wonders why Struc- 
ture 1 was partially dismantled, with a cache con- 
structed on its hearth pavement, while Structure 2 was 
abandoned with its structure virtually intact. How- 
ever, in other respects, Nuk-2 is typical of several 
other EPE dwelling sites excavated in northern La- 
brador with peripheral tent rings, axial pavements 
with hearth features, brief occupation durations, and 
no extensive middens, in addition to low debitage 


1 5 5 

and artifact returns, the presence of celts, a high fre- 
quency of burins, a low frequency of microblades, and 
a concentration of finds primarily in the axial pave- 
ment areas. The extremely frugal nature of lithic 
debitage, all of which represents maintenance rather 
than manufacturing activities, suggests that the 
people at Nuk-2 had very few lithic tools and little 
lithic raw material to spare. A knowledge of the Ramah 
and Mugford chert sources is evident, but tool conser- 
vation and the sparse use of lithics (except for the 
prolific wastage of locally obtained celt materials) are 
consistent with what one would expect of a pioneer- 
ing occupation by a small group with very limited re- 
gional infrastructure. 

One of the intriguing problems emerging from our 
Labrador surveys also is highlighted by the unusual 
preservation of the Nuk-2 site. Standing box hearths 
are rare in Labrador and have been found elsewhere 
only as isolated features without axial pavements (e.g., 
at Karl Oom and Nulliak). Considering the large number 
of EPE sites recorded in the region from Nain to Saglek, 
the scarcity of box hearths is peculiar. The same may 
be said of formal axial dwelling constructions. The rar- 
ity of these site types suggests that their absence may 
result from the lack of preservation due to post-occu- 
pational processes or from the possibility that such 
sites, presumably of winter seasonality, are located 
primarily in inner-bay and interior regions, which are 
still poorly known archaeologically. At present, the lack 
of survey data is probably the most likely cause for 
the ambiguity in our current understanding of EPE and 
Transitional settlement patterns. 

This tentative reconstruction suggests that Labra- 
dor EPE people may have had a settlement cycle that 
involved shifting between summer sites on the coast 
and fall and winter sites on the forested inner bays 
and interior, where caribou, char, and wood to 
heat their poorly insulated winter tents were abun- 
dant. A similar summer coastal and winter interior 
pattern has been suggested for early Paleoeskimo 
sites in Peary Land. Today's Inuit of Nain tell of their 

ancestors shifting from coastal sites into the forested 
interior, to the lakes west of the Kiglapaits where they 
could be sure to find fish, in rare instances when they 
were faced with starving in winter on the coast (Abel 
Leo, personal communication 1 976). An absence of 
caches, lack of fire-cracked rock deposits, and an ori- 
entation to open-water hunting zones are significant 
factors indicating summer seasonality of EPE site distri- 
bution in coastal Labrador. A full reconstruction of this 
settlement system requires an additional winter com- 
ponent of the type represented by the Croswater 
Pentacostal site in Postville, with its cluster of house 
floors, thick black-earth deposits, large artifact and 
debitage collections, and layers of fire-cracked slabs 
and hearth rocks. To date, no Pre-Dorset winter sites 
have been located in Labrador, but it seems likely that 
they will eventually be found on the near-interior lakes 
and caribou hunting grounds. In all of these respects, 
however, Nuk-2 remains anomalous as a fall-winter site 
located near the ice-floe edge. 

Terminal Pre-Dorset 

The foregoing discussion demonstrates that the Nuk- 
2 complex has many technological similarities with 
late EPE complexes known elsewhere in the Eastern 
Arctic. Nuk-2 burins postdate Taylor's Arnapik mate- 
rial, which he estimated at 3000-3500 B.P. based on 
burin styles, but they are similar stylistically to burins 
at Nagy's (and Taylor's) Pita site dated at 2580 ± 60 
B.P., although it may date somewhat earlier (Nagy 
2000b:35). Nuk-2 is certainly later than McGhee's Gull 
Cliff Port Refuge site dated at 31 40 ± 55 B.P. and 3505 
± 55 B.P., but which McGhee (1981:123) believes 
should date earlier (ca. 3500-3700 B.P.) based on 
the absence of polished or notched burins. For simi- 
lar reasons— the presence of waisting, notching, 
small size, and polishing features of burin technol- 
ogy— Nuk-2 should postdate the Twin Ponds Com- 
plex (3500-3700 B.P.; Helmer 1 991 :309); Bloody Falls 
(3300 ± 90 B.P.; McGhee 1 970); Umingmak (3400- 
3300 B.P.; Muller-Beck 1977), and the Sarqaq and 

1 56 


Pre-Dorset phases of Bache Peninsula and Buchanan 
Bay (Schledermann 1 990, 1 996). On the other hand, 
the Nuk-2 complex shares a close relationship with 
Helmer's Devon Lowlands Rocky Point Complex 
(3000-2800 B.P.), which he dates by comparison to 
Nuk-2 and Okak 4 (Helmer 1 991 :31 3). There seems 
to be no exact parallel to the Nuk-2 assemblage in 
Schledermann's Buchanan-Bache sequence. 

It is difficult at this point to present a clear dis- 
tinction between Terminal and Late Pre-Dorset be- 
cause of the small sample of sites available for this 
period in Labrador. Many of the features Cox 
(1978:104) described for Late Pre-Dorset lithics are 
also present at Nuk-2: spalled burins with ground 
faces and tips; larger (than EPE) triangular endblades 
with both flat and concave bases; large stemmed 
endblades, small endblade knives, tabular end scrap- 
ers, and limited microblade production; and a ten- 
dency for waisting, shallow side-notching, and 
single-double asymmetric notching in hafting styles. 
Edge serration is only an occasional rather than a 
regular feature of biface production, as in earlier peri- 
ods. Soapstone lamp fragments are rare but present. 
When present with late-style burins, Nuk-2 houses, 
and certain Groswater features (flat adzes, notched 
points, etc.), the differences from Late Pre-Dorset 
(3500-3200 B.P.) may be sufficient to warrant a sepa- 
rate Terminal Pre-Dorset phase dating to 3200-2800 
B.P. Alternatively, as more evidence of this period 
becomes available, it may suggest that TPD should 
be classified with Groswater and Independence II 
as components of the Transitional Horizon. 

"Grey Culture" Distress? 

On a more abstract level, while it is identifiable as a 
chronological horizon, the TPD phase lacks the strong 
identity characteristic of earlier EPE and later 
Groswater or Transitional PE complexes. Not only in 
Labrador but also elsewhere in the eastern arctic, 
TPD sites and collections tend to be small and of vari- 
able technology, suggesting that this period was one 

of low population density, short-term settlement, and 
weakly expressed cultural patterning (Helmer 
1991:315; McGhee 1979:118; Schledermann 1990). 
In contrast to earlier and later periods in which assem- 
blages are dominated by an abundance of fine cherts 
and carefully made, consistently styled tools, TPD as- 
semblages are often made from low-quality materials 
like vein quartz and poor-quality local cherts. Such char- 
acteristics suggest restricted demographic mobility and 
limited access to high-quality lithic materials that were 
more abundant in earlier Pre-Dorset and later Groswater 
periods. Tool size and debitage production are reduced 
from earlier periods, reflecting a scarcity of lithic stock, 
and there is evidence of intense curation of individual 
tools. These patterns suggest a breakdown of regional 
exchange systems and a shortage of high-quality lithic 
materials, which is one of the primary hallmarks of ear- 
lier and later period technology. When coupled with 
indications of small dispersed sites and low popula- 
tion levels, one suspects that LPE culture was enduring 
unusual stress and disorganization. 

A comparable episode in Eastern Arctic history may 
be seen in the Protohistoric period between A.D. 1 500 
and 1 850. During this time, many Inuit groups faced 
environmental, social, technological, and perhaps bio- 
logical challenges stemming from a combination of 
climatic and environmental change and external con- 
tacts resulting from new European visitors. The loss of 
whaling potential, shifts and perhaps declines in cari- 
bou and musk ox, the introduction of new materials 
and diseases, territorial shifts, and confrontations with 
dwindling Dorset populations and Indian groups may 
have provoked physical, biological, and spiritual stress. 
Such stress appears to have disrupted systems of re- 
gional interaction and exchange, undermined ritual and 
social systems, and produced disarray in technologi- 
cal templates, resulting in a proliferation of regional 
styles and ad hoc technology (McGhee 1972b:129). 
Disarticulated cultural systems seem evident in the 
protohistoric Copper Eskimo area (McGhee 1971, 
1 972b), and low population densities are suggested 


1 57 

for seventeenth-century Labrador (Kaplan 1983:326). 
The transition from Classic Thule to its Developed and 
Historic phases is also accompanied by environmen- 
tal stress resulting from the onset of the Little Ice 
Age, the loss of central arctic whaling, and subsis- 
tence-settlement reorganization. Throughout the 
Central Arctic, an archaeological hiatus is evident in 
the abandonment of former habitation areas, indi- 
cations of population decline, and absence of strongly 
patterned cultural remains. Compared with Early Pre- 
Dorset, Transitional Paleoeskimo, and Thule all of 
which have strong cultural profiles— Late Pre-Dorset 
culture, in general, and Terminal Pre-Dorset, in particu- 
lar, appear to be examples of those near-invisible "grey" 
cultures that herald change or exist at times of cultural 
transition. Such a model may help interpret what ap- 
pears to be a period of low cultural profile in Labrador 
Paleoeskimo history. 

One wonders why the Late/Transitional Pre-Dorset 
phase in Labrador might have fewer sites and lower 
populations than the previous EPD phase. One pos- 
sible explanation may relate to the fact that the pe- 
riod from 3500 to 3000 B.P. is marked by a northern 
expansion of Indian culture (Saunders phase), reaching 
Okak and Hebron, with occasional forays for Ramah 
chert and caribou hunting north as far as Saglek and 
Ramah. An Indian presence in these regions could have 
restricted or endangered Pre-Dorset access to forest 
resources, animals, or preferred lithic raw materials like 
the grey and black cherts of the Mugford/Kaumajet 
region north of Okak. The loss of these territories and 
products would have impacted Paleoeskimo tech- 
nology and belief systems. Among hunting cultures, 
lithics used for killing and butchering animals and 
their geological sources are closely connected to 
hunting ritual and human-animal spirit exchange 
(Loring this volume). Source localities of these ma- 
terials are often held sacred and are occupied by pow- 
erful deities. The loss of these areas to alien groups 
would have resulted in social, spiritual, and techno- 
logical distress (Fitzhugh 1984b). 

Cultural stagnation, abandonment of previously 
populated regions, and a northern advance of Indian 
populations, if not the causes of LPD/TPD retrenchment 
and decline, would have been major problems for 
Paleoeskimo groups in Labrador immediately preced- 
ing the Nuk-2 occupation. In addition to difficulties in 
obtaining high-quality chert and the loss of important 
hunting territories in the northern forest fringe, Pre- 
Dorset peoples in Labrador and further north would 
have lost access to useful forest products. The extent 
to which such upheavals may have influenced depopu- 
lation and cultural decline elsewhere in the Eastern Arc- 
tic is unknown. One imaginable and likely event that 
could have triggered broad-scale changes lies in the 
area of ungulate biology and climate. The period fol- 
lowing 3500 B.P. was also one of climatic change, in- 
cluding cooling and unstable climatic events (Majewski 
and Bender 1 995). Forest boundaries west of Hudson 
Bay retreated in a series of dramatic forest fires (Nichols 
1 967), and similar events occurred in Labrador-Que- 
bec, though with less pronounced effect on the north- 
ern forest limit (Fitzhugh and Lamb 1985:363; Short 
1 978; Short and Nichols 1 977). The disruption of cari- 
bou herds would have had a profound effect on EPE 
winter economy, as would the disruption caused by 
hostilities and resource loss resulting from encroach- 
ment by Indian groups. 

In this respect, the Nuk-2 occupation appears to 
be a "terminal" EPE horizon in Labrador; its 3000 B.P. 
date falls shortly before the appearance of the Gros- 
water phase, which begins in Labrador ca. 2800 B.P. 
and slightly later, ca. 2500 B.P., on the Lower North 
Shore and Newfoundland (Fitzhugh 1 980b; Loring and 
Cox 1986; Pintal 1994; Renouf 1994). Given Nuk-2's 
unique setting as a probable fall or early winter season 
site on an outer island, its lack of obvious economic 
orientation, and its spartan lithic usage, the site might 
have been an "exploratory" venture to recolonize terri- 
tory formerly occupied by previous Early Paleoeskimo 
peoples between 3400 and 3000 B.P. that had been 
taken over by Saunders Complex Indian groups. The 

1 58 


high "hidden" aspect of the site and its outer-coast 
orientation offers support for such an hypothesis. If so, 
the effort appears to have failed. This complex did not 
lead to an expanded TPD occupation in central Labra- 
dor, and it is not a likely progenitor of the succeeding 
Groswater Phase. 

Relationship to Transitional Horizon Cultures 

Links to the succeeding Groswater phase need to be 
discussed. As noted previously, Groswater appears in 
Labrador as a fully formed cultural entity with tightly 
defined typological templates and significantly differ- 
ent technology. With a considerable body of Groswater 
data now available from Labrador, Newfoundland, and 
the Lower North Shore, there appears to be little evi- 
dence of stylistic change throughout its 600- to 800- 
year duration. Complexes of 2800-2600 B.P. are nearly 
identical to those of 2200 B P. The period of major 
change was between 3000 and 2800 B.P. 

Although not immediately ancestral, the roots of 
Groswater are apparent in Transitional Pre-Dorset com- 
ponents like those at Nuk-2: ground burins, incipient 
side-notching, partially ground flat slab celts, absence 
of nephrite, restricted use of soapstone cooking ves- 
sels, and similar dwelling types and adaptations. But 
equally significant are the differences: Groswater's ex- 
tensive microblade technology, deeply side-notched 
and box-based plano-convex harpoon endblades, wide- 
eared end scrapers, and ground Sarqaq-like boot-creas- 
ers. It is not likely that these Groswater elements evolv- 
ed directly from a Labrador Nuk-2 prototype, espe- 
cially given the marginal nature of this occupation in 
Nain and northern Labrador. These changes more likely 
occurred in TPD societies farther north. The presence 
of highly styled Groswater phase bifaces at Port au 
Choix East and West (Renouf 1 994), together with other 
elements not present in Labrador Groswater sites, leads 
one to conclude that they originated in Newfound- 
land as a specialized development from a more gener- 
alized Labrador Groswater culture. Nevertheless, the 
possibility of a Newfoundland origin of Groswater 

innovations should not be dismissed, for no early 
Groswater site has yet been found in Labrador that 
lacks the use of distinctive mottled southwestern New- 
foundland cherts, which is what one would expect to 
see in a pioneering group that had not yet reached 
Newfoundland. Such a complex may be represented 
at the Big Falls site in Saglek (Tuck 1975b), whose 
undated assemblage is Groswater but consists of 
Ramah rather than Newfoundland cherts; in this case, 
however, the site is sitting virtually on top of a Ramah 
chert outcrop, so that its raw material content may be 
irrelevant. Northern origins may also be indicated by 
early 3000 B.P. dates on willow samples from Inde- 
pendence II sites in Peary Land and by the larger num- 
bers of Transitional Period sites known in northern Que- 
bec. Whatever kicked Groswater and the Eastern Arc- 
tic Transitional cultures "into gear" remains undisclosed. 
Yet, the evidence to date suggests that the southeast 
subarctic region became a distinct subregion of the 
larger Eastern Arctic Transitional Horizon. 

There seems to be a continuing role for southern 
connections in early forms of Dorset, although in this 
case it may be in the form of raw materials rather than 
slate tools, side-notching, or concave scrapers as origi- 
nally proposed by Collins (1 962). Southern chert, among 
other boreal resources, may have been part of the in- 
centive for the remarkably rapid southern thrust of early 
Groswater into central Labrador, Newfoundland, and 
Quebec. So strong is the role of Newfoundland chert 
in the earliest Groswater assemblages in Labrador that 
one suspects a Terminal Pre-Dorset complex may some- 
day be found on the island. If so, Collins' and Meld- 
gaard's intuition about the "forest smell" of Dorset may 
yet be revived. 

With the immediate link between Nuk-2 and the 
succeeding Groswater period not yet evident in La- 
brador, we must look farther north for origins, since 
pre-Groswater Paleoeskimo sites have not been iden- 
tified in Newfoundland. But so far, northern sites have 
not produced convincing links between the LPD/TPD 
and Transitional phases. Late Paleoeskimo sites do not 


1 59 

contain architectural evidence comparable to Nuk-2, 
and these assemblages are not obvious transitional 
prototypes. To cite one of the complexities, the Nuk-2 
assemblage is most similar to LPD-phase lithics but its 
dwelling types are closest to Transitional Horizon In- 
dependence II, although the latter sites lack stone 
boiling boxes. Thus, it may be that Nuk-2 house an- 
cestry predates Independence II houses (Knuth 1 981 :fig. 
9a) by a few hundred years and that stone box cook- 
ing, which probably evolved from the Independence 
l/EPD quadrilateral hearth feature, was discontinued in 
northern Greenland before the Transitional Horizon 
coalesces about 3000 B.P. Under this scenario, Nuk-2 
architecture would have been derived from an as-yet- 
undiscovered Sarqaq or Independence I successor in 
the Eastern Canadian Arctic. 

Since Alaskan contact has often been cited as a 
stimulus for Dorset origins, we may expect sites from 
the Western Canadian Arctic to hold clues, but here 
again we are faced with questions rather than solu- 
tions. Western traits are present in the Lagoon com- 
plex, but its Crane and Lagoon components (2600 B.P. 
and 2300 B.P., respectively) are too late to be progeni- 
tors of Independence II. Nevertheless, the strong Dorset 
"cast" of this material and the presence of both Alas- 
kan and Central Arctic elements offer continued sup- 
port for the hypothesis of western influence, especially 
in semisubterranean house forms, notched implements, 
cooking vessels, and burin technology. Significantly, 
these innovations, which appear in Early (Tl) Dorset, 
seem to have had little, if any, influence on the origins 
of the Transitional Horizon Independence II and 
Groswater complexes. The latter appear wholly origi- 
nal to the eastern region. 

Early Dorset and the Late Paleoeskimo 

The final stage of this transformation, the origins of 
the Late Paleoeskimo tradition and its first culture phase, 
Early Dorset, appears more closely connected to the 
Lagoon Complex than to the preceding Transitional 

Horizon. The best definition for Early Dorset still is 
Collins's Tl site assemblage, which displays all of the 
new features that distinguish this subtradition from its 
EPE predecessor. These include the presence of fully 
ground (after spalling) burins, concave base plano-con- 
vex tip-fluted endblades, and rectangular soapstone 
cooking vessels in place of stone boiling; more seden- 
tary winter coastal adaptation with shallow semisub- 
terranean dwellings; a proliferation of ground-slate 
endblades; and new forms of celts and toggling har- 
poons. These features are not found in the earlier Tran- 
sitional complexes of the Eastern Arctic. Yet because 
they appear in sites in the Central and Western Cana- 
dian Arctic rather than in Greenland, Newfoundland, or 
Labrador, and because they overlap chronologically 
with Transitional complexes of the latter regions, the 
nature of culture change as an expanding, eastward- 
moving wave of migration, stimulus, or acculturation 
seems evident. 

This dynamic process is most apparent in the East- 
ern Arctic and Subarctic during the EPE-LPE interface. 
Occurring within the span of only 500 years, between 
3000 and 2500 B.P., Early Paleoeskimo traditions re- 
configure into a distinctively new culture known as 
Independence II in northern regions and Groswater in 
the south. Yet, hardly had these changes taken place 
before a new complex with significantly different tech- 
nological, adaptation, and settlement forms appeared. 
Since Early Dorset innovations cannot be derived from 
Transitional Horizon cultures, it is tempting to see them 
as having western, perhaps even Siberian, origins. Ma- 
rine rather than land resources became dominant, and 
the focus of activity shifted toward permanent coastal 
residence. Seals and walrus replaced a mixed land/sea 
(caribou/musk ox/seal) focus for winter food; artistic 
expression elaborated; and shamanism became a rec- 
ognizable feature of archaeological collections. Once 
implanted, the Dorset tradition spread rapidly beyond 
the Central Arctic core area, as Transitional cultures 
seem to have done only a few centuries earlier. In most 
areas, Early Dorset replaced or absorbed Transitional 

1 60 


cultures without leaving many traces of the former tra- 
dition. Only in Newfoundland does it appear that 
Groswater lithic elements were incorporated into the 
Dorset tradition. 

The speed with which these changes took place, 
over great distances, is a remarkable aspect of the 
Paleoeskimo transition. These responses, which must 
have been influenced by the cooling episode of the 
sub-Atlantic, also mark the cultures of this period as 
highly dynamic and creative. Developing new econo- 
mies and tool forms; forging new alliances and routes 
for the acquisition of distant trade materials; and deal- 
ing with social and perhaps even ethnic and linguistic 
divisions— not only in Labrador and Newfoundland but 
within the Central Arctic regions and Greenland— Dorset 
Paleoeskimo peoples demonstrated a remarkable ca- 
pacity for dynamism and change. From this perspec- 
tive, their history during this period cannot be sub- 
sumed under a rubric of stasis or stability. This time 
marked the greatest period of change to occur be- 
tween the first arrival of Paleoeskimo peoples and the 
Thule culture's appearance 2,000 years later. 

Finally, this review of the Transitional Horizon con- 
cludes with an observation on terminology. Nuk-2 pro- 
vides evidence for cultural continuity within the EPE 
tradition from Early Pre-Dorset into the Transitional 
Horizon based on technology, typology, settlement 
patterns, adaptations, and dwelling types. The new 
elements that appear in Groswater and Independence 
II are primarily stylistic and internally generated. Labra- 
dor TPD/GW responded to new ideas like lamps and 
ground burins in their own conservative way; how- 
ever, this adaption was eventually replaced by a more 
successful one originating in the Central Arctic. Seen in 
this light, the LPE tradition represents a departure from 
the previous EPD tradition. For this reason it seems 
appropriate to classify the Tl type of Early Dorset as 
the beginning of a new subtradition and to place 
Groswater and Independence II as regional variants 
of Transitional Horizon cultures that still retain the 
basic organization of the preceding Early Paleoeskimo 

tradition. While there is merit in the concept of a"Meso- 
eskimo" tradition as first outlined by Knuth and elabo- 
rated by Plumet, continuities between Early and Late 
Paleoeskimo still seem strong enough to support the 
idea of a single Paleoeskimo tradition, a conclusion 
also reached by Nagy (2000b:1 14). In the future, if 
more specific Dorset origins should be identified in 
Alaska and ethnic boundaries such as those suspected 
between Groswater and Early Dorset in Labrador were 
to be seen as more widespread in the Eastern Arctic, 
perhaps "Dorset" rather than "Mesoeskimo" would be 
preferable as a name for a third subtradition within the 
broader Paleoeskimo period. 

Nuk-2 opens a window to a new and dynamic 
period in the history of Labrador cultures. It not only 
offers a glimpse of a unique pioneering occupation by 
Paleoeskimo peoples probing the southern frontier of 
the arctic world, but it also raises questions about 
events that were to follow as a rapid succession of 
northern cultures adapted arctic lifeways to subarctic 
Labrador and spread even farther south, into Newfound- 
land and Quebec's Lower North Shore. Doubtless, there 
will be other surprises in store as Labrador's past con- 
tinues to be uncovered. 


To me, the discovery of the Nuk-2 site in 1976 came 
like a bolt from northern Greenland, but when I told 
Eigil Knuth about Independence II houses in Labrador, 
it came to him as an equally dramatic Shockwave from 
the boreal forest. I owe much to Eigil Knuth for the 
inspiration of his pioneering work in Peary Land and to 
William E. Taylor and James V. Wright for encouraging 
me to undertake work in Labrador. But it is to Elmer 
Harp that I owe my deepest gratitude for training, 
inspiration, and opportunities that come only once in 
a lifetime. This paper reflects years of discussion with 
many individuals, primarily Steven Cox, Richard Jordan, 
Stephen Loring, and Christopher Nagle, and more re- 
cently, Daniel Odess, none of whom should be held 
responsible for any shortcomings. I especially wish to 


thank Warren Hofstra and Stephen Loutrel, without 
whom Nuk-2 might not have been found for many 
more years, and Stephen Loring, Arthur Spiess, James 
Carton, Mark O'Konski, Tetsua Amano, and other mem- 
bers of the 1976 field team. A preliminary report on 
Nuk-2 was presented at the Canadian Archaeological 
Association meetings in the late 1 970s. I also wish to 
thank Stephen Loring for comments on early drafts, 
Tom Scalese and Marcia Bakry for assistance on illus- 

trations, Victor Krantz for specimen photography, and 
Elisabeth Ward for editing, formatting and layout. 


1 . Radiocarbon dates listed as B.C. /A D. have been 
calibrated using the Stuiver and Pearson 1 987, Rev. 
1.3 conversion program. Otherwise, dates or periods 
listed as B.P. are based on uncorrected CI 4 ages. Some 
of the latter have been corrected for CI 2/1 3. 

1 62 


u /\nd ~]~netj "y^ook /\watj the ^ytones from 

tT13 ll": 1 [_«thic Kaw Material ^ourcing and P astern /\rcti'c 


The quickening pace of archaeological research 
throughout the North American Arctic in recent 
years has destroyed many of the comfortable, 
uncomplicated views formerly held about the 
development of prehistoric cultures there. 
(Harp 1 964b: 1 84) 

It is hard to imagine an archaeology without stone 
tools. Stone tools figure prominently in the definition 
of the human species, and as traces of past cultural 
presence their record is of the greatest duration and 
the broadest spatial distribution in defining our global 
tenure. The permanence of stone tools has been an 
inspiration for archaeologists and essayists alike (e.g., 
Thoreau 1962 [1906]:1212, 1454-1455). 

Like many of their lower-latitude brethren, arctic 
archaeologists have relied disproportionately on stone 
tools, especially projectile points and bifaces, when 
erecting their interpretations of the past, dispropor- 
tionately so in the sense that stone forms such a small 
percentage of the raw materials used by ancient hu- 
man groups whose skin, wood, and bone artifact in- 
dustries have often not survived. While arctic archae- 
ologists are sometimes graced with frozen middens 
that can provide insight into the ancient perishable 
assemblages of former arctic foragers, stone yet re- 
mains the material culture currency of favor, and more 
so the further back in time one goes. 

Prehistoric arctic inhabitants were an extraordinar- 
ily resourceful lot. Their knowledge of the intricacies 
and nuances of their mostly frozen world are, for the 
most part, beyond the ken, even beyond the imagina- 
tion, of most people today. In a world where survival 

placed a premium on ingenuity and on knowledge de- 
rived from wide-ranging movement across the land- 
scape, it is not surprising that what little the land af- 
forded in the way of mineral resources was discov- 
ered and utilized. Across the Arctic, Inuit ancestors and 
their predecessors had discovered much that was of 
interest to them, including fossilized Pleistocene bones, 
meteoritic iron, float copper, coal, steatite, amber, neph- 
rite, slate, quartz, crystal quartz, and, of course, a wide 
variety of cryptocrystalline silicates, fine-grained cherts, 
obsidian and metamorphosed sediments. These ma- 
terials were used to fabricate the myriad hunting, 
butchering and manufacturing tools on which life was 
contingent and must have played a central role in the 
economic and spiritual life of these people. 

The conchoidal fracturing properties of chert (the 
general term that geologists use to refer to sedimen- 
tary rocks composed of cryptocrystalline silicas, in- 
cluding materials also called flint, jasper, chalcedony, 
novaculite, agate, and quartzite) by which stone could 
be manipulated to produce a wide variety of cutting, 
scraping, and piercing edges, made knowledge of the 


sources and varieties of this material a critical compo- 
nent of ancient Inuit adaptations. Useable outcrops of 
chert occur in a variety of different contexts, including 
nodules, discrete lenses, and layers in sedimentary de- 
posits. Chert source localities can be unique, isolated 
outcrops, or part of a long stratigraphic bed providing 
many kilometers of exposed sediments. And in the 
Arctic, a variety of geomorphological processes, in- 
cluding solifluction, erosion, and water and glacial trans- 
port, can spread lithic raw materials far beyond their 
immediate source locality. The Precambrian crystalline 
rocks of the Canadian Shield contain a wide variety of 
cryptocrystalline lithic materials, including metamor- 
phosed volcanics, sedimentary rocks, quartzite, and 
chert deposits as well as younger intrusive rocks 
(Bostock 1 970), that are potentially suitable for mak- 
ing flaked stone tools. In the High Arctic archipelago, 
folded Mesozoic and Paleozoic strata contain igne- 
ous intrusions and sedimentary rocks (overlying the 
Precambrian basement complex) that contain outcrops 
of usable chert, slate, and quartzite deposits (Stockwell 
et al.1970). 

Stone tool assemblages are the cornerstones of 
cultural chronologies in the Eastern Arctic and the prin- 
cipal means by which cultural evolution and change 
have been discerned and interpreted. Stone tool as- 
semblages have been analyzed from a functionalist 
perspective to determine prehistoric technologies and 
site function. Group identity and regional and interre- 
gional social relationships have been postulated on 
the basis of stylistic affinities in certain classes of stone 
tools. Throughout the Arctic, functional, technologi- 
cal, and stylistic studies of stone tools have served as 
the primary basis for constructing Paleoeskimo culture 
history (McGhee 1979; Maxwell 1985; Schledermann 
1 990). Even when bone and wood are recovered, stone 
tool typologies provide the lingua franca of Paleo-eskimo 
archaeology in the Eastern Arctic. 

Analysis of stone tool assemblages nearly always 
includes discussion of the lithic raw material that pre- 
historic peoples used to fashion their implements. This, 

in turn, has led to research directed at identifying these 
lithic sources (Bryan 1950; Clark and McFadyen-Clark 
1 993; Ericson and Purdy 1 984; Findlow and Bolognese 
1982; Luedtke 1976; Sieveking et al. 1972). Through 
study of lithic source localities and recognition of cul- 
tural lithic preferences for manufacturing projectile 
points and other chipped stone tools, archaeologists 
are provided with one of their best opportunities to 
look at prehistoric regional and interregional exchange 
and interaction systems, and the means to examine 
the social dynamics of trade and procurement pat- 
terns. Knowledge of the spread of lithic raw materials 
from their source localities is perhaps the best way 
that archaeologists can gain insight into the spatial 
dimensions of prehistoric cultures— the size, location, 
and durability of group territories and settlement pat- 
terns—as well as into group affinities and affiliations. 
Furthermore, differential access to lithic raw materials 
offers an opportunity to look at the emergence of hier- 
archical social structure through the use and control of 
exotic materials. 

Through the identification and analysis of lithic 
raw material preference and use, it is possible to move 
beyond studies of cultural chronology, subsistence, 
and technology to get at notions of social systems 
and group identity. Social interaction is frequently in- 
ferred both by the stylistic affinities of stone tools and 
by the presence of exotic raw materials. In the Eastern 
Arctic, chert use is frequently culturally idiosyncratic 
and diagnostic (e.g., Maxwell 1973:48 in Baffin Is- 
land; Fitzhugh 1 977a in Labrador) in that Paleoeskimo 
peoples predictably chose specific exotic chert 
sources even though appropriate materials were 
closer at hand. Indubitably, chert varieties were used 
to signal some form of social identity. The need of 
arctic foragers to maintain access to neighbors and 
resources is readily evidenced in the astonishing vari- 
ety of exchange systems and systems of reciprocity 
that are featured in ethnographic observations. Fur- 
thermore, the need to facilitate access to information 
and distant social networks is essential for arctic 

1 64 


peoples living in sparsely populated landscapes. For 
prehistorians denied the evidence of ceremonial feast- 
ing, food sharing, and ritual paraphernalia, exotic lithic 
artifacts remain as tantalizing clues of such events. The 
challenge for archaeologists is in knowing how to in- 
terpret these phenomena. 

Despite this potential for expanding our under- 
standing of the prehistoric cultures of the Arctic, the 
sourcing of lithic raw materials has not figured signifi- 
cantly in Eastern Arctic research. A brief (not exhaus- 
tive) review of the literature reveals that while some 
researchers describe the local (apparently) dominant 
raw material in their chipped stone assemblages, for 
example, Wintemberg (1939:90, 1940:328) at New- 
foundland Dorset sites; Maxwell (1973) for Baffin Is- 
land; Taylor (1 968:1 5) for the Ungava coast and north- 
east coast of Hudson's Bay; Schledermann (1990) for 
Ellesmere Island; and Meldgaard (1952:222) for the 
Sarqaq assemblages from West Greenland, it is only 
recently that researchers have begun to describe and 
assess the source localities of exotic materials in their 
Paleoeskimo assemblages (Nagle 1986; Odess 1996). 
Other researchers ignored the raw material of their 
chipped stone assemblages entirely, for example, 
Leechman (1 943) and O'Bryan (1 953) in Hudson's Straits; 
Collins (1 956a) on Southampton Island; Rowley (1 940) 
at Abverdjar near Igloolik; Mary-Rousseliere (1964) at 
Pelly Bay; and Knuth (1 967) in northernmost Greenland. 
To be fair, this methodological lacuna is in part attrib- 
utable to the episodic and wide geographical spread 
of Eastern Arctic archaeological research (to say noth- 
ing of the fiercely independent nature of arctic archae- 
ologists), and the paucity of research projects prior to 
ca. 1 970. Until recently, transportation costs and lo- 
gistical constraints have inhibited wide geographical 
coverage in the Arctic of the sort that might facilitate 
a regional and interregional perspective on chert ac- 
quisition and consumption. A further hindrance to 
identifying sources of lithic raw materials is that the 
baseline geological mapping of much of the Eastern 
Arctic is yet in its infancy. 

Notwithstanding the preceding historical quali- 
fications, there is now available the cumulative tes- 
timony of over a half-century of archaeological in- 
vestigations spread across the Eastern Arctic, as well 
as collaborative geological data and analytical pro- 
cedures that could be mustered to address the ques- 
tions of cultural affiliation and dynamics inherent in 
determining the sources and distributions of lithic raw 

Sourcing Lithic Raw Materials 

Determining the source of lithic raw materials has fig- 
ured significantly in a wide array of archaeological in- 
vestigations (Luedtke 1 992). Recognition of the po- 
tential research benefits of such analyses is predicated 
on the ability of matching artifacts with geological 
source samples. Frequently, however, lithic identifica- 
tions are anecdotal, based on individual knowledge 
and experience. Such "eyeball analyses" (Luedtke 1 993) 
are notoriously inaccurate given the similarity of some 
lithic materials (especially cherts!) and the tendency to 
underestimate source variability (Calogero 1 992). The 
uniformity of chert chemical composition (being nearly 
entirely silicon dioxide) can also obscure analysis. Even 
within a single source, chert often has a wide color 
and texture variation that can make specific attribu- 
tion difficult to determine. 

With the following caveat in mind, chert identifica- 
tions are frequently defined by visual macroscopic iden- 
tification based on color, luster and translucency, mac- 
rofossil inclusions, and grain size (texture). While archae- 
ologists regularly become familiar with local lithic types, 
there is an increasing likelihood of error in identifying 
similar-looking materials over a wide area. The likeli- 
hood of error is compounded in the Eastern Arctic 
where the low density of archaeologists and the large 
geographical distances between archaeological sites 
precludes a fine-grained site mosaic. 

The uncertainty with strictly visual determinations 
of chert identification has led to the utilization of ana- 
lytical methods based on chemical and petrographic 


1 6 5 

traits (Shotton 1970) and on trace element analysis 
(Luedtke 1 978, 1 987) for determining petrological and 
geochemical chert "signatures." Petrographic thin- 
sectioning and microscopy reveal the distinctive mi- 
crocrystalline orientation of chert samples as well 
as diagnostic microfossils and carbonate composition 
(Prothero and Lavin 1 990; Luedtke 1 979, 1 987). Addi- 
tional techniques include neutron activation analysis 
and x-ray diffraction to provide chemical data on mi- 
nor and trace elements that occur in different propor- 
tions in different chert deposits (Aspinall and Feather 
1 972; Luedtke 1 979; Sieveking et al. 1 972; Spielbauer 
1 984) and electron microprobe analysis of mineral in- 
clusions to define mineral and element composition 
(Kempe and Templeman 1983; Malyk-Selivanova and 
Ashley 1995). 

The potential for the recognition of regionally dis- 
tinct chert sources is apparent from a few brief refer- 
ences in the Eastern Arctic literature. For example, 
Maxwell (1960:7) discusses the paleozoic quartzites 
and greywackes and low-grade chert that was avail- 
able throughout northeastern Ellesmere, and the "ex- 
cellent" (but not described) chert in the gravels of the 
adjacent Greenland coast. On Baffin Island, Maxwell 
(1 973) mentions the local availability of small cobbles 
of some tan cherts. On Southampton Island, Collins 
(1 956b:68) reports that a grey chert, available as nod- 
ules in the limestone formations of the southeastern 
shore, is representative of 99 percent of the stone tool 
inventory at the T-l Early Dorset site. Unfortunately, 
none of these discussions quantify the nature or the 
amount of exotic materials or go beyond a casual 
description of the lithic types. 

With more than seventy years of archaeological 
research, there now is some weight to the accumu- 
lated knowledge pertaining to prehistoric arctic occu- 
pations. Collections now housed in Canadian, English, 
and Danish museums provide a basis for making com- 
parative observations on the utilization of lithic raw 
materials throughout the Eastern Arctic. A study of 
these archaeological assemblages could reveal the 

range of local lithic preferences throughout the entire 
Paleoeskimo sequence and provide the basis of an 
archaeological database to compare with samples of 
chert and other siliceous stones from geological 
sources. This is an exciting direction for future research 
in the Eastern Arctic that has the potential to explore 
cultural processes on a broad geographical scale. 

Lithic Procurement Strategies 

An understanding of the lithic procurement strategies 
of prehistoric arctic peoples holds great promise for 
moving beyond the narrow confines of established 
regional culture history. Some indication of this poten- 
tial can be realized from a brief inspection of the sig- 
nificance of lithic procurement studies in the Paleoindian 
literature (Ellis and Lothrop 1 989). 

Both Paleoindian and prehistoric arctic peoples can 
be characterized, at least in their initial pioneering stage, 
as highly mobile colonizers with low population den- 
sities and challenging environmental constraints. Long- 
distance trade in exotic materials serves both to meet 
the demand for nonlocal necessities and to operate as 
a social mechanism to avert regional resource vaga- 
ries in hunter-gatherer adaptations in marginal environ- 
ments (Gould 1 978:289, 1 980; Hayden 1 982; McBryde 
1984). Because Paleoindian lithic choices frequently 
did not conform to least-effort acquisition strategies, 
researchers have looked beyond narrow technologi- 
cal and utilitarian explanations to explain the presence 
of exotic raw materials (Ellis 1 989). In the Paleoindian 
literature the use of exotic lithic raw materials has been 
interpreted as a means by which widely dispersed 
populations were kept in contact with one another 
(Wilmsen and Roberts 1978:177-179), as a stylistic 
means to signal group identity (Ellis 1989:1 56), as a 
resource anchor about which dispersed groups would 
predictably aggregate (Gardner 1977: 260), and as a 
measure of social flexibility and mobility of settlement- 
subsistence strategies (Meltzer 1 984, 1 989). 

While much of the Paleoindian literature pertaining 
to lithic raw material procurement is bogged down in 

1 66 


debates over scheduling decisions, the acquisition 
and transportation of lithic raw materials, even over 
great distances, do not seem likely to have inhibited 
prehistoric arctic peoples. Northern native peoples early 
on perfected the technological means to traverse large 
distances by developing watercraft and dog-team trac- 
tion. Seemingly audacious travels by northern natives, 
facilitating the distribution of goods and social inter- 
action throughout the Arctic, are a stable feature of 
northern prehistory and ethnography (Rowley 1985). 
Long-distance trade has been recognized as a recur- 
ring leitmotif in the Western Arctic (Burch 1 988b; Nagle 
1984; Stefansson 1914a). 

The Paleoindian debate over the scheduling deci- 
sions pertaining to the acquisition of lithic raw materi- 
als includes perceived constraints imposed by snow 
and ice cover and frozen ground for would-be quarriers. 
While these difficulties may be true in some temperate 
localities with especially heavy snowfalls, they would 
tend to be offset in the Arctic where wind keeps much 
of the ground relatively free of snow cover and where 
both snow and ice greatly facilitate travel. Pep Wheeler 
(1 900-1 974), Labrador's preeminent pioneering geolo- 
gist, was fond of noting "that the windswept uplands 
offered more rock exposure in winter than the ungla- 
ciated southeastern United States at any season" (Morse 

Lithic Sources and Procurement Strategies 
in Labrador 

That lithic raw material preferences could be corre- 
lated with distinct cultural and temporal aspects of 
Labrador prehistory was realized by William Fitzhugh 
during his dissertation research in Hamilton Inlet (Fitz- 
hugh 1972b). Much subsequent research in Labrador 
has been devoted to sourcing and describing the vari- 
eties of lithic raw materials used by prehistoric peoples, 
including the study of a wide variety of locally avail- 
able stones (quartz, slate, and nephrite) and steatite 
(Allen et al. 1 978; Allen et al. 1 984; Nagle 1 982, 1 984). 
With the accelerated pace of research in Labrador 

during the 1970s, identifying lithic sources became a 
high priority. Cherts recovered from prehistoric sites in 
Labrador include the grey-banded Mugford cherts 
(Cramly 1 978) and Ramah chert (Gramly 1 978; Lazenby 
1 980) from the mountainous north coast. Chert sources 
from the Quebec-Labrador interior include Saunders 
chert, probably from the Seal Lake vicinity (McCaffrey 
et al. 1989), and the grey-green-tan cherts of the 
Sokoman-Ruth-Wishart and Fleming chert formations 
in the Labrador Trough region of north-central Que- 
bec-Labrador (McCaffrey 1 989a, 1 989b). 

Of all the wide variety of lithic raw materials in La- 
brador, none is so intimately associated with the pre- 
history of the region as is Ramah chert. Pioneering 
Maritime Archaic hunters and their families were the 
first to discover the Ramah chert quarries sometime 
around 7000 B.P., and its use became a prominent 
feature of the succeeding Maritime Archaic cultural se- 
quence. Subsequent to the Maritime Archaic period, 
Ramah chert was an important feature of Groswater 
Dorset and Labrador Middle and Late Dorset cultures 
and was the nearly exclusive choice of the late prehis- 
toric Indian cultures in Labrador. While archaeologists 
may sometimes be criticized for placing such a dis- 
proportionate interest in prehistoric lithic assemblages, 
it is not surprising given the visibility of chipped stone 
industries in the archaeological record. Nor is it surpris- 
ing that a lithic raw material as beautiful and practical 
as Ramah chert would attract attention. 

In the remainder of this chapter I explore the use 
and distribution of Ramah chert in order to assess its 
potential for elucidating prehistoric cultural dynamics 
in the "far Northeast" and as an example of the poten- 
tial for similar studies throughout the Eastern Arctic. 

On the Ramah Chert Trail 

A lifelong interest in stone-tool manufacture and use 
led the antiquarian Sir Daniel Wilson to view collec- 
tions and visit prehistoric quarrying sites in eastern North 
America and to correspond actively with colleagues 
at the Smithsonian and the Geological Survey of 


1 67 

Canada. 2 In a discussion of prehistoric lit hie acquisition 
and distribution, Wilson provides the first reference to 
Raman chert in the literature: 

[This] suitable and specially prized material 
were sometimes sought on different sites, 
and disseminated from them by the primitive 
trader. Along eastern Labrador and in New- 
foundland arrow-heads are mostly fashioned 
out of a peculiar light-grey translucent 
quartzite. Dr. Bell informs me that near 
Chimo, south of Ungava Bay, is a spot 
resorted to by the Indians from time imme- 
morial for this favorite material; and arrows 
made of it are not uncommon even in Nova 
Scotia. (Wilson 1889:84-85) 

Robert Bell, a geologist and naturalist for the Geo- 
logical Survey of Canada's 1884-1885 expedition to 
Hudson's Bay, probably encountered Ramah chert while 
visiting the prominent site of Nunaingok near Port Bur- 
well at the extreme northern tip of Labrador and at 
Nachvak Fjord (Bell 1 884). 

The peripatetic Warren King Moorehead is the next 
to comment on this distinctive lithic material. Long 
before his celebrated excavations of the Red Paint Cem- 
eteries in Maine, he wrote: 

A study of chipped implements . . . opens up 
a field of research of great possibilities. . . . 
For instance, chips of a certain stone, which 
appear to have come from Labrador, are said 
to be found occasionally in Maine or Massa- 
chusetts. If this statement is true, it leads us 
to question whether the Eskimo and the New 
England natives bartered, or whether there 
was a migration in earliest times from 
Labrador to New England, or vice versa. Or, 
whether the stone is found in New England 
as well as Labrador. (Moorehead 1910:249) 

Fitzhugh (1972b:40) has suggested that Moore- 
head's Labrador derivation may possibly have origi- 
nated from his knowledge of the Jewel Sornborger and 
Owen Bryant collections from northern Labrador and 
Alfred Kidder's collections from Newfoundland (all be- 
fore 1910) at Harvard's Peabody Museum, probably 
brought to his attention by the museum's director 
Charles C. Willoughby. While Willoughby's excavations 
of several "Red Paint Indian" cemeteries did not pro- 
duce any Ramah chert artifacts (Willoughby 1 898), he 

would have been familiar with specimens, including 
Ramah chert stemmed points, from other Maine cem- 
eteries that were already in the Peabody collections 
(Smith 1 948:34, 68). Furthermore, the use of red ocher 
in the burials inclined the New England antiquarians to 
look to Newfoundland, the ancestral home of the 
Beothuk, as a logical place of cultural origins (Willoughby 
1 898:52). 

Recognizable artifacts of Ramah chert first figured 
in Moorehead's (1 922:1 05) A Report on the Archaeol- 
ogy of Maine and, subsequently, in Willoughby's 
(1 935:53) Antiquities of the New England Indians, both 
of which featured plates with half a dozen stemmed 
points from Red Paint Indian graves in Maine and, in 
Willoughby's book, a large biface from Rhode Island. 
Moorehead (1922:97) called it "Labrador stone" and 
wrote, "We took from the graves [at Lancaster's on 
the Kennebec] also a number of spear heads of trans- 
lucent quartzite, that peculiar unidentified material 
which is common in Labrador but has never been found 
in a natural state, a ledge or boulder, in the State of 
Maine." Willoughby (1935:51) describes the stone as 
"a translucent quartz interspersed with nearly black 
blotches and shadings of gray, a material apparently 
foreign to New England and only occurring in these 
states so far as known in the form of finished blades. 
The source of this material is apparently in Labrador 
and possibly also in Newfoundland." 

It was, I believe, William Duncan Strong who, as 
the anthropologist with the Rawson-MacMillan Sub- 
arctic Expedition of 1 927-1 928, finally provided, if not 
the actual quarry source location, then conclusive proof 
in the form of well-documented archaeological assem- 
blages of the Labrador derivation for Ramah chert 
(Strong 1 930). Strong collected from several coastal 
sites between Nain and Hopedale where he recov- 
ered bifacially worked stone tools and debitage of a 
distinctive raw material that he called "translucent chal- 
cedony." Strong's "Old Stone Culture" was a melange 
of artifacts from what we now know to be a number 
of separate Paleoeskimo and prehistoric Indian cultures. 

1 68 


One location Strong collected from was a site at Sharp 
Hill in Big Bay, about halfway between Hopedale and 
Nain. Here an outcrop of fine-veined quartz had been 
quarried in antiquity leaving the surface littered with 
quarry debris as well as debitage from an occupational 
episode. Strong believed that both the quartz and "chal- 
cedony" had been quarried from outcrops on Sharp 
Hill. The geology of the central Labrador coast pre- 
cluded the likelihood that an outlying bed of Ramah 
chert could occur here, but Strong's suggestion was 
enough of a nagging concern that Fitzhugh invested 
considerable time in revisiting the site locality and even- 
tually put to rest the specter of a separate southern 
outcrop of Ramah chert (Fitzhugh 1 972b:42, 1 974). 

In 1 934, Junius Bird excavated several Labrador 
Eskimo winter houses during his honeymoon in Labra- 
dor (Bird 1 945). Beneath the house floor of one struc- 
ture Bird uncovered points and flakes of the distinctive 
stone. Bird had previously made several voyages along 
the northern Labrador coast, first in 1 927 as a member 
of the Putnam expedition to Baffin Island (Putnam 1 928) 
and later with Captain Robert Bartlett, during which he 
had seen flakes of Ramah chert at sites in Eclipse Har- 
bor and Newfoundland. The American Museum of Natu- 
ral History, where Bird worked, also had a few Ramah 
chert bifaces from the Maine Red Paint Indian sites. 

By the century's midpoint, it was generally con- 
ceded that Moorehead's "Labrador stone," the "trans- 
lucent chalcedony" of Strong and Bird, was indeed 
derived from Labrador, although the actual provenance 
was yet unknown. It was Elmer Harp (1 964b:255-256) 
who finally resolved the mystery of the source for this 
raw material, much of which he had seen in the course 
of fieldwork in southern Labrador and Newfoundland. 
Harp's research was framed within the context of Es- 
kimo origins and the nature of Indian/Eskimo relation- 
ships, and he commented on the "widespread and 
persistent occurrence throughout the marginal north- 
east of translucent grey quartzite as a major raw 
material for chipped artifacts" (Harp 1964b:255). He 
noted the prevalence of this material in some of his 

collections from the Strait of Belle Isle and in the Red 
Paint burial sites from Maine. 

Following World War II, the mineral potential of the 
Labrador peninsula attracted considerable attention. 
Through conversations with British Newfoundland Ex- 
ploration, Ltd. (BRINEX) geologists, Harp learned of the 
presence of a broad band of translucent grey quartz- 
ite centered in the mountainous fjorded region of north- 
ern Labrador at Ramah Bay. Comparison of geological 
samples with archaeological specimens determined 
that, at last, the fabled source of what has come to be 
called Ramah chert was located. According to Harp's 
BRINEX informant, an Inuit to whom the material was 
shown, it looked like wnnuyakh (caribou back fat). 

The Ramah chert trail next gets picked up by Fitz- 
hugh who became familiar with the material during his 
dissertation research in Hamilton Inlet in 1 968 and 69. 
Fitzhugh (1 972b:40-44, 239-244) provides the first 
detailed description of the raw material, including a 
physical and chemical analysis and a description of 
the source localities. A history of the geological re- 
search and mapping of the Ramah series is in Morgan 
(1 975). A detailed inspection of the quarry site by ar- 
chaeologists was made in 1 976 and during the Torngat 
Project research in 1 977 and 1 978. Descriptions of 
the Ramah chert quarry are in Gramly (1 978) and Lazen- 
by (1 980). Lazenby (1 984) also summarizes the geol- 
ogy of the Ramah chert source locality in the context 
of her study of Maritime Archaic chert use in Labrador. 

Ramah Chert in the Far Northeast 

Given the prominent role that Ramah chert plays in 
Labrador prehistory, this chapter frames the prehis- 
toric distribution of Ramah chert in the context of the 
cultural sequence in Labrador, essentially from the 
perspective of the residential cultural anchor, the 
Labrador starting point, from which chert distribution 
must have proceeded. Divided into four principal peri- 
ods, these are: (1) the Maritime Archaic, ca. 7000 to 
3 500 B.P.; (2) the Paleoeskimo sequence, including 
Groswater Dorset, ca. 4100-2100 B.P., and Early- 


1 69 

Middle-Late Dorset in Labrador, ca. 2500-800 B P., but 
excluding Pre-Dorset components; (3) the Late Prehis- 
toric Period Indian cultures, ca. 1 800-400 B.P.; and (4) 
Norse activity in the New World, ca. 1000 B.P. 

Maritime Archaic 

By 7000 B.P., intrepid Maritime Archaic hunters, prob- 
ing the margins of the known world, discovered the 
spectacular Ramah chert outcrops. Early Maritime Ar- 
chaic sites in southern and cen- 
tral Labrador have chipped stone 
assemblages that are character- 
ized by quartz, red quartzite, and 
slate industries, essentially local 
lithic materials. With the discov- 
ery of the Ramah chert sources, 
Ramah chert became the pre- 
ferred chipped-stone material, 
a preference that increased 
with time until it became the 
nearly exclusive choice in Late 
Maritime Archaic Rattlers Bight 
complex sites (4000-3700 B.P.; 
Lazenby 1984). The use of 
Ramah chert by Maritime Archaic 
groups in Labrador peaked at the 
same time as regional expres- 
sions of an elaborate mortuary 
tradition known from Labrador, 
Newfoundland, and the maritime Northeast. Excava- 
tions of a Maritime Archaic village and associated cem- 
etery at Rattlers Bight in Hamilton Inlet (Fitzhugh 1 976c), 
ca. 41 00-3500 B.P., revealed stone-lined burial pits filled 
with stone and copper artifacts, sheets of mica, and 
walrus ivory, all covered and stained with brilliant red 
ocher. Ramah chert bifaces, stemmed points, quarry 
blanks, and flakes were included as burial furniture in 
several of the Rattles Bight graves. Although nearly 
identical to specimens recovered from the nearby oc- 
cupation site, the Ramah chert flaked-stone assem- 
blage from the burials was frequently larger and in 

74. 7/ Ramah chert artifacts from Nulliak 

pristine condition in comparison with resharpened and 
reused specimens from the village area. 

Approximately 600 kilometers further north, at 
Nulliak, lies the largest Maritime Archaic site on the 
north coast (Fitzhugh 1981). The site at Nulliak dates 
to ca. 4300 B.P. A scant sixty kilometers from Ramah 
Bay, it must have facilitated access to the chert quar- 
ries. At Nulliak there are a number of long-houses and 
at least two large stone-capped burial mounds. Ramah 
chert artifacts, especially large numbers of stemmed 
points, were recovered from both domestic and mor- 
tuary contexts (fig. 1 4.1 ). 

Middle and Late Maritime Archaic sites have been 
discovered along the central and southern Labrador 
coast and in the adjacent near-interior. These sites at- 
test to the pervasive reliance on Ramah chert by Mari- 
time Archaic Indians to meet their chipped-stone needs. 
Ramah chert artifacts with close stylistic affinities to 
the stemmed points and large bifaces from Rattlers 
Bight and Nulliak have been 
recovered from sites on the 
north shore of the Strait of 
Belle Isle, at Forteau Bay, and 
at the mouth of the Pinware 
River (Harp 1 964b). These 
sites also contain Ramah 
chert debitage that testifies 
to the transport of Ramah 
chert as a lithic raw mate- 
rial, in addition to the artifacts that appear to have 
been brought in finished form from the north. As we 
will see, artifacts of Ramah chert extend far beyond 
the Straits region but, significantly, only as carefully 
finished stemmed points and semilunar bifaces. The 
Straits appear to mark the southern boundary of 
groups that had direct access to Ramah chert, either 
through procurement expeditions to the north or 
through exchange with closely allied groups. While the 
situation is not yet clear on Newfoundland, where few 
Maritime Archaic sites have been excavated, it is ap- 
parent that south and west of the Strait of Belle Isle 

1 70 


the transportation of Ramah chert is limited to care- 
fully crafted objects of ceremonial significance. 

On Newfoundland there is yet to be an excavation 
of a Maritime Archaic habitation site on par with those 
conducted in Labrador. Two cemetery excavations, at 
Port au Choix (Tuck 1 976a) and Twillingate (MacLeod 
1 967), however, provide dramatic testimony to the 
continuity of a shared mortuary tradition linking sites 
in Newfoundland with those in Labrador, the Maritimes, 
and Maine. Three radiocarbon dates from the Twillingate 
burials average 3500 B.P., contemporaneous with the 
occupation at Rattlers Bight. Several Ramah chert arti- 
facts, including a stemmed point and the portion of a 
semilunar biface, were recovered from the Twillingate 
burials. Ramah chert debitage was recov- 
ered from limited testing at an adjacent habi- 
tation site. 

While no Ramah chert artifacts were re- 
covered during the cemetery excavations 
at Port au Choix, a remarkable cache of 
Ramah chert bifaces was previously found 
on a beach terrace just below the Maritime 
Archaic cemetery (Harp 1 964a:l 41 -1 44). 
The cache, discovered in 1 946 by Walter 
Billard while preparing his garden, consisted 
of seventy-three chipped stone implements, 
including sixty-four Ramah chert artifacts 
(seventeen broad leaf-shaped bifaces, six 
semilunar forms, thirty-seven unifaces, and 
four biface fragments). It is impossible to tell at this 
late date whether this material was originally interred 
as part of a mortuary feature or whether it is indicative 
of some other ritual or ceremony. Three other caches 
of Ramah chert bifaces have been recovered, two in 
southern Labrador and one on the Quebec North Shore; 
they are discussed in further detail below. 

Moving up into the Gulf of the St. Lawrence, the 
fourth millennium B.P. use of Ramah chert appears to 
drop off precipitously. Whether this perception is a re- 
sult of the paucity of research in the area or a historical 
reality only the test of time will tell. To date there is a 

single Ramah chert stemmed point reported from near 
Trois Rivieres (Wright 1 982:200) and another one from 
"New York." 3 Wright (1995:194) reports that some 
Ramah chert "specimens and flakes" have been found 
as far west as Cornwall, Ontario, but no provenance is 

While the use of Ramah chert in a Late Archaic con- 
text seems to diminish as one heads deeper into the 
interior toward the Great Lakes, the situation is dra- 
matically different along the maritime coast south of 
Newfoundland into New England. There is a lacuna 
between Newfoundland and the coast of New Bruns- 
wick and Maine where Ramah chert artifacts have yet 
to be reported from a Late Archaic context. Interest- 
ingly, this gap coincides with a gap between 
the Late Archaic Maritime cemeteries of New- 
foundland and Labrador (Tuck 1 971 ) and the 
obviously allied Moorehead Mortuary com- 
plex cemeteries (Sanger 1973), Moorehead's 
Red Paint Indian cemeteries, in New Brunswick 
and Maine. Within this ceremonial mortuary 
context Ramah chert stem-med points and 
semilunar bifaces are a recognized but rare 
feature (fig. 1 4.2). Of the nine distinctive traits 
14.2/ Ramah chert tnat Moorehead (1 930: 47) applies to his de- 

stemmed point found scrjption of tne Red Pajnt | ndian cu | ture in 
eroding out from a 

probable burial fea- Maine, he includes "spear heads of clear chal- 
ture at Indian Island, „ , 

Old Town Maine 4 cedony known as the Labrador stone. These 

artifacts are clearly manufactured in Labra- 
dor and traded south in a context that maintains their 
significant symbolic value and importance. When docu- 
mentation exists, Late Archaic Ramah chert artifacts 
appear to be derived exclusively from mortuary/cer- 
emonial contexts. 

Ramah chert artifacts remain extremely rare through- 
out the region: in the Maritimes only three stemmed 
points have been located in antiquarian collections 
(Patricia Allen, personal communication 1 987). Stem- 
med points and large bifaces of Ramah chert, how- 
ever, are a dramatic component of Late Archaic mor- 
tuary traditions in Maine, having been commented on 


by numerous researchers who have worked in the area 
(Bourque 1971; Moorehead 1922; Robinson 2001; 
Smith 1948; Snow 1980; Willoughby 1 93 5). 

While most of the Maine cemetery sites were ex- 
cavated prior to the advent of radiocarbon dating, 
recent excavations at two sites demonstrate that they 
are contemporaneous with Rattlers Bight and Nulliak 
occupations (Belcher et al. 1994:21; Snow 1975:50). 
Other than these mortuary finds there is only a sparse 
scattering of Ramah chert artifacts that have been iden- 
tified in New England: (1 ) a semilunar Ramah chert biface 
acquired by the Smithsonian in 1 868 from a site on 
Grand Lake Stream, St. Croix River, Maine 5 (fig. 14.3a); 
(2) the mid-section of a large Ramah chert semilunar 
biface recovered from the central Connecticut River 
Valley in the town of Hadley, Massachusetts, about 
seventy years ago (fig. 1 4.3b); and (3) at least four large 
bifaces from Rhode Island, apparently the southern- 
most appearance of Ramah chert during the Late Ar- 
chaic period. The provenance of two of these speci- 
mens is only "Rhode Island" (Willoughby 1935:51); of 
the other two, one is from North Smithfield 6 (fig. 14.4) 
and one from Wakefield (fig. 1 4. 5). 

Paleoeskimo Archaeology 

In Labrador, the use of Ramah chert by Paleoeskimo 
populations increases dramatically through time. Ramah 
chert occurs sparingly in some Pre-Dorset assemblages 
(4100-3300 B.P.); the pioneering Paleoeskimo popula- 
tion in Labrador preferred the finer-grained Cape 
Mugford cherts. However, transitional Groswater 

14.3/ Large Ramah chert bifaces from New England 

Dorset groups (2800-2200 B.P.) proved extremely 
eclectic in their consumption of lithic raw materials, 
with varying amounts of local (Ramah) and exotic (Cow 
Head cherts from Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula, 
first mentioned by Wintemberg [1939:88]) cherts in 
their assemblages. Groswater Dorset components at 
Nunaingok, at the extreme northern tip of Labrador, 
contain tools and debitage derived from Newfound- 
land sources. Digging at Nunaingok in 1 93 5, Douglas 
Leechman found Paleoeskimo components full of 
"quartzite"— Ramah chert. Leechman (1 943:365) wrote, 
"the source of the quartzite is not known to the mod- 
ern Eskimos, who use fragments from the old village 
site when they have need of it." 

Further south, at Postville (Loring and Cox 1 986) 
on the central Labrador coast, 500 kilometers from 
the Ramah quarries and nearly a thousand kilometers 
from Newfoundland, the Groswater Dorset stone tool 
assemblage is composed of approximately 70 per- 
cent Newfoundland cherts and 25 percent Ramah. At 
the southern terminus of Groswater Dorset culture, at 
the Strait of Belle Isle on the Quebec North Shore (Pintal 
1994:1 51 ; Plumet et al. 1994) and in Newfoundland 
(Auger 1986:113; Carignan 1975:47; Renouf 1994: 
1 74), Newfoundland cherts dominate the assemblages, 
although a very small proportion of tools and debitage 
made of Ramah chert are always present. 

Clearly, during the Groswater Dorset period in 
Newfoundland and Labrador the acquisition and gen- 
erous consumption of chert from distant sources at- 
tests to the presence of fairly formal, elaborate, and 

1 72 


14.4/ Ramah chen biface from North 
Smith field, R.I. 

sophisticated exchange and interaction networks. 
These networks, it has been hypothesized, served as a 
means to circumvent the constraints imposed by a 
linear coastal-maritime-settlement-subsistence strategy 
through reciprocity and kinship relations (Loring and 
Cox 1986:78). 

With the advent of the Late Paleoeskimo tradition 
(ca. 2500-800 B.P.), the "classic" Early-Middle-Late 
Dorset of Labrador (Cox 1 978; Tuck and Fitzhugh 1 986), 
Ramah chert becomes the nearly exclusive lithic 
choice for flaked-stone tools and continues so until 
the Thule appropriation of the coast signals the end of 
Dorset culture (Nagle 1 986). The lithic technology of 
Thule peoples consisted primarily of a ground-slate 
industry. Occasionally, in northern Labrador, we find 
small water-washed and/or ground and polished 
chunks of Ramah chert at Neoeskimo house sites, the 
purpose and significance of which must await further 
analysis. Nagle (1 986) has written on the nearly exclu- 
sive use of Ramah chert by Dorset Paleoeskimos in 
Labrador. He tests Renfrew's (1 977) distance-decay 
model, quantifying the nature of Ramah chert consump- 
tion and use in relation to increased distances from 
the quarry location. 

Newfoundland Dorset, contemporaneous with 
Middle Dorset in Labrador, is most characterized by its 
particular regional stamp (Harp 1 964a). Harp (1 964a:91 ) 
describes the occurrence of Dorset artifacts made of 
"translucent grey quartzite" and others of "flint or chert" 
but source identifications are not hazarded. With the 
recognition of the northern Labrador source for Ramah 
chert, it is apparent that there must have been some 

interaction between Dorset populations in Newfound- 
land and Labrador; small quantities of Newfoundland 
cherts occur at Middle Dorset sites in the Nain area 
and further north (Jordan 1 986:1 42). 

North from Labrador it is rare to find site reports 
detailed enough to include the analysis of debitage 
and quantify the appearance of exotic lithic raw mate- 
rials. In western Ungava Bay, Plumet's Tuvaaluk Pro- 
gram proves the exception to the rule. He and his col- 
leagues (Desrosiers 1986; Labreche 1986a; Plumet 
1 986b, 1 994) note that Ramah chert, as well as other 
exotic materials, occur in trace amounts at the Paleo- 
eskimo sites at Diana Bay. On Baffin Island, as part of 
the Meta Incognita Project in outer Frobisher Bay, 
Smithsonian researchers located several Early and Late 
Dorset sites some with a few flakes or a few tools of 
Ramah chert (Odess 1 996, 1 998). 


1 4.5/ Ramah chert biface from Wakefield, R.I. 


1 7 3 

Further west at Nuvuk, a Dorset site near Cape 
Wolsten-holme, Nouveau Quebec, Leechman (1943: 
366) hints at the presence of Ramah chert and of ma- 
terial likely to be derived from Southampton Island. At 
Southampton Island, some 1 ,200 kilometers from the 
Ramah chert quarries, Cox (1978:113) reports that 
Henry Collins's collections from T-l contain "a few 
Ramah chert tools." This latter observation is especially 
interesting given Cox's claim of close similarities be- 
tween the Early Dorset component at T-l and Early 
Dorset sites in Labrador. 

Late Prehistoric Period Indian Archaeology 

Labrador's Indian prehistory is broken into three epi- 
sodes. The initial Maritime Archaic period, ca. 7000- 
3500 B.P., is followed by a series of Intermediate In- 
dian occupations, ca. 3 500-2800 B.P. (Nagle 1978), 
and finally by the Late Prehistoric period with its Daniel 
Rattle and Pt. Revenge complexes, ca. 2000-400 B.P. 
(Fitzhugh 1978b; Loring 1988a, 1992). Coeval with 
Middle and Late Dorset Paleoeskimo occupations in 
northern Labrador, Late Prehistoric period Indian groups 
(the ancestors of the Innu) frequented the central La- 
brador coast and adjacent interior. While I have not 
encountered any contemporary traditions among the 
Innu that pertain to the use or knowledge of Ramah 
chert, it was the nearly exclusive lithic preference of 
their ancestors. This passion for Ramah chert necessi- 
tated a journey far to the north of the tree line to an 
alien world inhabited by strangers— a journey fraught 
with dangers. 

Late Prehistoric period Indian stone tool assem- 
blages are characterized by the conspicuous con- 
sumption of Ramah chert. Along the central Labrador 
coast, Daniel Rattle (ca. 1800-1000 B.P.) and Pt. Re- 
venge (ca. 900-300 B.P.) complex sites are frequently 
found littered with large amounts of Ramah chert 
debitage (Loring 1 992). The early Daniel Rattle com- 
ponents have a mixed bifacial and unifacial chipped- 
stone tool assemblage. The bifacial industry consists 
primarily of straight-based lanceolate forms and side- 

notched projectiles. The unifacial industry consists of 
a wide variety of quite large side and end scrapers and 
flake knives. This unifacial industry might have been an 
excellent technological strategy to maximize the po- 
tential use-life of stone tools, a valuable strategy for 
highly mobile, dispersed hunters and gatherers who 
lived hundreds of kilometers south of the Ramah chert 
quarries. Such economic assumptions, however, are 
negated by the expansive squandering of large 
amounts of Ramah chert in the form of debitage at 
these sites. Clearly, late prehistoric Indian groups in 
Labrador had no problems in getting large quantities 
of Ramah chert. 

There is little evidence that Late Prehistoric period 
Indian groups lived north of Nain, although a thin trickle 
of diagnostic projectile points extends all the way to 
the southernmost extension of the Ramah quarries at 
Saglek. Rather, the north coast of Labrador was the 
homeland of Middle and Late Dorset peoples with 
whom Daniel Rattle and Pt. Revenge people must have 
been in contact. Dorset culture disappears around A.D. 
1 300 with the sudden appearance of Neoeskimo Thule 
invaders. Whatever social relations may have existed 
between Late Prehistoric period Indian and Paleoeskimo 
peoples were irrevocably severed. 

With Thule cultural expansion along the entire La- 
brador coast, eventually extending all the way to New- 
foundland, the Indian socioeconomic landscape was 
radically altered. Ramah chert retained its prominence 
in the lithic assemblage at late Pt. Revenge sites, but 
the flagrant consumption, characterized by the large 
volume of debitage in the earlier Daniel Rattle compo- 
nents, was superceded by apparent stinginess and 
intensive reworking and reuse of available materials. 
The latest radiocarbon-dated Pt. Revenge site is Aly's 
Head in Hamilton Inlet (Fitzhugh 1 978b:l 59-1 60; 
Loring 1992:354-358). Charcoal from a hearth pro- 
duced a date of 325 ± 80 (SI- 1 276) equivalent to 
A.D.I 625. By this time the Thule and European appro- 
priation of the coast appears to have been a factor in 
the withdrawal of Indians from a maritime setting and 

1 74 


14.6/ Casts of the Spingle cache bifaces held by the Archaeology Unit, Memorial 
University, St. John's. 

coincidently from their economic and ceremonial-sym- 
bolic identity with Ramah chert. 

Late Prehistoric period Indian sites extend the full 
length of the central and southern coast of Labrador 
as far as the Quebec North Shore. At Blanc Sablon, a 
number of prominent Late Prehistoric period Indian sites 
with Ramah chert artifacts and debitage have been 
recorded (e.g., the Kidder collection at Harvard's Pea- 
body Museum [Fitzhugh 1972b:plate 87a, e-k]; the 
Lawrence Jackson collection [Loring 1985:132-133]; 
materials collected by Harp [1 964b]; and recent exca- 
vations conducted by Jean-Yves Pintal [1989, 1998, 
personal communication 1992, 1998]). 

One of the more unusual characteristics of Ramah 
chert distribution during this time period is the appear- 
ance of three caches of Ramah chert bifaces, two from 
southern Labrador and one from the Quebec North 

Shore. In the fall of 1995, a 
spectacular cache of "about 
90" large Ramah chert bifaces 
were found by a hunting party 
"between Port Hope Simpson 
and William's Harbour" along 
the southern Labrador coast 
(Pomeroy 1995). Details re- 
main sketchy but newspaper 
photographs reveal an aston- 
ishing array of large Ramah 
chert unifacial tools and 
bifaces. Superficially, these 
artifacts bear a striking resem- 
blance to tools from the Late 
Prehistoric period Daniel 
Rattle components at sites 
near Davis Inlet and Postville 
and to material recovered 
from the Spingle cache. A sec- 
ond extraordinary cache of 
Ramah chert artifacts from 
southern Labrador included at 
least nine remarkable bifaces, 
several biface fragments, and a number of flakes; it 
was discovered by Gordon Spingle in 1 990 while gar- 
dening in front of his home in L'Anse-au-Clair, Labrador, 
on the Strait of Belle Isle (fig. 1 4.6). The Spingle bifaces 
are large (average length is 1 93 mm) and broad (maxi- 
mum width is 1 1 3 mm; average width is 77 mm) 
with pronounced convex sides. The bifaces do not 
neatly slip into previously described categories. The 
lack of any associated materials makes their attribu- 
tion difficult, but I believe they date to the Late Prehis- 
toric period on the basis of their similarity to bifaces in 
the Stubbert cache, as discussed below. 

The Stubbert cache of Ramah chert bifaces was 
found by Huey Stubbert in the village of Kegashka, 
on the Quebec North Shore approximately 350 kilo- 
meters west of the Strait of Belle Isle (Chism 1982; 
Loring 1992:446-449). The Stubbert cache consists 


1 7 5 

of twenty-nine large Raman chert bifaces, an unworked 
tabular piece of Ramah chert, a biface of dark gray 
quartzite, and a polished stone rod of uncertain func- 
tion (fig. 1 4.7). Several Stubbert cache bifaces are iden- 
tical to lanceolate forms recovered from Daniel Rattle 
and Pt. Revenge sites in Labrador and to a specimen 
recovered from a cache of bifaces found in Saybrook, 
Connecticut (see below). Others include broad-bladed 
bifaces with convex sides, which in turn are similar 
to the bifaces in the Spingle cache. Maritime Ar- 
chaic people also produced large Ramah chert 
bifaces, including lanceolate forms (Harpl 964:243), 
but the absence of rectangular, semilunate and 
bipointed forms diagnostic of the Maritime Archaic 
period (Fitzhugh 1975:127, 1978a:78), and the re- 
covery of both the small lanceolate bifaces and the 
large, narrow dagger-like forms from well-documented 

Daniel Rattle components, support the attribution of 
the Stubbert cache to the Late Prehistoric period. The 
similarity of the broad bifaces with convex, almost 
round, blade outlines links the Stubbert and Springle 
caches although, barring supportive further data, this 
attribution must remain tentative. 

These three caches and the high percentage of 
Ramah chert utilized at Late Prehistoric period sites on 
the Quebec North Shore are not predicted by gradual 
fall-off models of down-the-line exchange (Renfrew 
1977). Such dense accumulations of Ramah chert 
1 ,600 kilometers from its source are not concentrated 
by hand-to-hand, trickle-down exchange but rather by 
highly motivated, direct procurement activities by in- 
dividuals or small groups. In order to overcome the 
difficulties in bringing Ramah chert such a distance, 
there must have been a substantial social/ideological 

/ 4. 7/ Stubbert cache as photographed by William Fitzhugh in Kegashka, summer 200 1 

1 76 


investment in the chert that would make it preferable 
to less distant raw materials. Further to the south and 
west, the value or significance of Ramah chert does 
not figure so centrally in the socioeconomic aspects 
of group identity. 

Across the Straits in Newfoundland, Late Prehis- 
toric period Indian cultures (a.k.a the Recent Indian 
period in Newfoundland) ancestral to the Beothuk ap- 
pear to be closely allied with their Labrador neighbors. 
And while Ramah chert does not figure significantly in 
most of the Newfoundland assemblages, the marked 
stylistic convergence of the Labrador and Newfound- 
land stone tools attest to some interregional exchange 
and interaction. Ramah chert side-notched projectile 
points have been recovered at the Beaches site in 
Bonavista Bay (Carignan 1 975:1 05, plate 26) and other 
Beaches assemblages, dating roughly between A.D. 
800-1200 (Loring 1992:456-459). At the Bank site 
(DdAk-5)— an important Recent Indian site also in 
Bonavista Bay— a linear hearth feature was excavated 
that contained an impressive amount of Ramah chert 
tools and debitage, leading its excavator to suggest 
that the acquisition and consumption of exotic mate- 
rials, like Ramah chert, may have figured significantly in 
ritual feasts and ceremonies (Schwarz 1 992). 

Moving west from the Strait of Belle Isle up the St. 
Lawrence estuary, Ramah chert is repeatedly found in 
small amounts at some Late Prehistoric period sites 
along the lower Quebec North Shore. Most often it 
occurs as isolated finds. Large unifacial Ramah chert 
scrapers, similar to specimens from the Daniel Rattle 
complex sites in Labrador, have been recovered near 
the Saguenay, at the Sainte-Marguerite River (Levesque 
1962:23) and at Trois-Rivieres (Marois and Ribes 
1 975:60, 95-96). Kidder and Tuck (1 972) found Ramah 
chert debitage associated with small corner-notched 
projectile points from a mixed multicomponent site 
on Anticosti Island, and a small Levanna-like triangular 
arrowhead of Ramah chert was recovered from be- 
side the Richelieu River north of Lake Champlain (Wright 

/ 4.8/ Bi faces from Vermont at the National Museum 
of the American Indian 

From the Champlain Valley there are a pair of small 
bifaces of uncertain cultural/chronological attribution 
that are likely associated with this Late Prehistoric 
period distribution of Ramah chert. The first is a small 
Ramah chert flake point in the collection of William 
Benton of Vergennes, Vermont, which was found at 
the mouth of Otter Creek on Lake Champlain. While 
there is little doubt about the lithic material, its cultural 
attribution is less obvious as the flake point has stylis- 
tic affinities to flake points from the Maritime Archaic 
habitation site at Rattlers Bight in Hamilton Inlet 
(Fitzhugh 1 972b, plate 79 a-p) and Windy Tickle near 
Hopedale (Strong 1 930:plate 4 n-t). The second is a 
cylindrical-shaped biface or drill, a form that has no 
counterparts further north; it was found in the collec- 
tions of the National Museum of the American Indian 
but contains no additional information besides its Ver- 
mont provenance (fig. 14.8a). 

Perhaps the most interesting piece of Ramah chert 
to come out of Vermont is a large ovate biface recov- 
ered in 1895 from Barker Farm in Leicester, Addison 
County (fig. 14.8b). While the Late Prehistoric period 
attribution is uncertain, this biface could well be a Late 
Archaic specimen, its close affinity to bifaces in the 
Spingle cache from L'Anse-au-Clair, Labrador, makes a 
Late Prehistoric period attribution possible. 

West of Vermont's Lake Champlain, the Late Pre- 
historic period trade in Ramah chert appears to drop 
off perceptibly, perhaps attesting to the emergence 
of less permeable social boundaries between the more 


1 77 

mobile Algonquian groups and incipient 
Iroquoian villages. However, an intensive 
survey of old museum collections might 
likely change this perspective and dem- 
onstrate further mechanisms of social in- 
teraction than heretofore perceived. For 
instance, while working through the col- 
lections of miscellaneous artifacts in the 
holdings of the Canadian Museum of Civi- 
lization, Jean-Luc Pilon (1 999) reports find- 
ing three small lanceolate Ramah chert 
bifaces from two different sites on the 
lower Gatineau River that had been col- 
lected prior to 1936. Pilon likens the 
Gatineau River finds to Meadowwood 
cache blades but to this author they bear 
a very strong resemblance to the small 
straight-based bifaces found at Daniel's 
Rattle complex sites in Labrador (Loring 
1 985: fig. 7; 1 992). And in the collections 
of the Smithsonian Institution, there is a 
large square-based Ramah chert biface 
that was found in Orleans County, New York (near Lake 
Ontario) in 1 893 (fig. 14.9). 

With the diminution of the Ramah chert trail to the 
west, we return to the Maritimes to pick up the trail 
anew. It seems unlikely that individuals from La-brador 
would ever have traveled much beyond the Strait of 
Belle Isle. In the absence of direct contact and interac- 
tion there is, nevertheless, a diffusion of some materi- 
als and ideas, as Late Prehistoric period Indian sites in 
the Maritimes share a number of strong stylistic fea- 
tures with sites in Newfoundland and Labrador (Loring 
1988b). While it has to be recognized as fundamen- 
tally different from the direct long-distance exchange 
and interaction that occurred among Indian groups 
further north, the late prehistoric cultures of the 
Maritimes, including Keenly-side's Maritime Woodland 
and the Ceramic period sites in Maine, contain pro- 
vocative data on the distribution of Ramah chert dur- 
ing the Late Prehistoric period in the Northeast. 

Ramah chert is very scarce in 
collections from the Maritimes ac- 
cording to David Sanger (personal 
communication 1 987) and Stephen 
Davis (personal communication 
1987). However, occasional flakes 
and locally manufactured tools of 
Ramah chert have been recovered: 
(1 ) Moira McCaffrey (personal com- 
munication 1 994) reports locating 
several flakes of Ramah chert in the 
course of survey work on the lles- 
de-la-Madeleine; (2) on Prince Ed- 
ward Island, Ramah chert tools and 
debitage are a consistent feature 
of Late Prehistoric period Indian 
sites dating ca. 1050-850 B.P. 
(Keenlyside 1982, 1984; 
Keenlyside and Keenlyside 
1976:30); and (3) on the New 
Brunswick mainland, traces of 
Ramah chert are also present at 
Late Prehistoric period sites. 7 

In the course of documenting archaeological col- 
lections on Prince Edward Island, David Keenlyside was 
shown a remarkable, small triangular projectile point 
that appears to be made of Ramah chert (personal 
communication 1 99 5) 8 found along the Tracadie River. 
Typologically, this specimen seems similar to some 
Late Dorset endblades from northern Labrador coast. 
If it is indeed a Paleoeskimo artifact, then it joins an 
intriguing set of Paleoeskimo objects transposed from 
their northern point of origin (realizing a prediction made 
by the naturalist Alfred S. Packard [1885:473] more 
than a 1 00 years ago). Steven Cox has identified a 
Dorset ground and polished burin-like tool in the col- 
lections from the Goddard site, a Late Prehistoric pe- 
riod habitation site on the central Maine coast, and 
also a pair of Dorset bone harpoon heads from Smith 
and Wintemberg's (Smith and Wintemberg 1 929:plate 
XX 1 -2) excavation of the Merigomish shell heap in 

14.9/ Ramah chert biface 
from New York 

1 78 


Nova Scotia (Bourque and Cox 1981:24-25). As the 
Paleoeskimo artifacts from Maine and Nova Scotia are 
associated with Late Prehistoric period Indian shell 
middens they may have functioned as gift items or 
curiosities that signaled, as did Ramah chert, some- 
thing exotic and desirable. They remain tangible evi- 
dence of the elaborate social mechanisms that linked 
Indian bands throughout the Far Northeast. 

There are several Late Prehistoric period sites in New 
Brunswick along the Tracadie River that, according to 
David Keenlyside (personal communication 2000), have 
produced Ramah chert debitage and artifacts. One of 
these sites, the Savoie site (CiDf-1 1 ), produced a Ramah 
chert assemblage that included several hundred biface 
thinning flakes and a half-dozen or so scrapers and 
small bifacial knives (Keenlyside and Keenlyside 1 976). 
The late prehistoric use of Ramah chert at the Savoie 
site is dated to 1 025 ± 1 20 (SI-71 3). 

The sparse trail of Ramah chert leading to New 
England becomes a bit more conspicuous when we 
reach the state of Maine. A number of Ramah chert 
artifacts have been recovered from a variety of late 
prehistoric Ceramic period sites along the central Maine 
coast: at the Jones Cove shell heap (Smith 1929:8) 
and the Watson site (Cox and Kopec 1 988), both in 
Frenchman's Bay; a shell heap in Casco Bay (Arthur 
Spiess, personal communication 1 989); and the God- 
dard site on Blue Hill Bay (Bourque and Cox 1 981 ). 
These coastal sites all appear to be coeval with 
occupations ca. 1 000-700 B.P. They have typical Late 
Ceramic period assemblages of small side-notched 

14. 1 0/ Monmouth County, NJ, biface 

projectile points made out of both local and exotic 
lithic raw materials, including Ramah chert specimens 
(Kopec 1 987). At both the Coddard and Watson sites 
a high percentage (30 percent at Goddard) of the lithic 
raw materials are derived from non-local lithic sources, 
including cherts from western New York, Vermont, and 
the Bay of Fundy, and jasper from Pennsylvania (Cox 
and Kopec 1 988:42). More than 1 50 flakes of Ramah 
chert, including large preform reduction flakes and small 
bifacial resharpening flakes, and at least thirty Ramah 
chert artifacts (made into local styles of side-notched 
projectile points and end scrapers) were found at the 
Goddard site (Bourque and Cox 1 981 :1 5; Steven Cox, 
personal communication 1989). 

Ramah chert has also been recovered from several 
Late Prehistoric period interior sites in Maine: Steven 
Cox reported two flakes of Ramah chert in a large 
collection from Mattawamkeag on the upper Penob- 
scot and several tools (a distal biface fragment, two 
end scrapers, and a couple of flakes) in a collection 
from Grand Lake Stream, a tributary of the St. Croix 
(Steven Cox, personal communication 1989); and 
Arthur Spiess and Robson Bonnichsen report finding a 
piece of Ramah chert near Munsungun Lake in 1 980 
(Arthur Spiess, personal communication 1 989). 

Eventually, the southerly trend of the Ramah chert 
trail peters out in southern New England and the mid- 
Atlantic states but not before some surprising mani- 
festations. A lanceolate biface of Ramah chert was 
recovered as part of a cache found near the mouth of 
the Connecticut River at Saybrook, Connecticut, around 
1 942 (Loring 1 992:484). The cache consists of twelve 
large, mottled-yellow-brown jasper bifaces, a parallel- 
sided, straight-based Ramah chert biface, and several 
rolled copper beads. Frequently, the attribution of 
caches composed of unfinished bifaces is problem- 
atic. In this case, however, the stylistic similarities of 
the Ramah chert lanceolate biface from the Saybrook 
cache with bifaces recovered from Daniel Rattle com- 
plex sites in Labrador unequivocally link the two in 
time. The distal portion of a broad-bladed Ramah 


1 79 

14.1 1/ The southernmost Ramah biface known to date 
was found in Maryland. 

chert biface (fig. 1 4.1 0) with convex edges and what 
appear to be small side notches was recovered in Mon- 
mouth County, New Jersey, and was formerly in the 
Dorothy Middleton collection (Gary Fogelman, personal 
communication, November 2000). The convex blade 
outline has no clear Labrador antecedents and may be 
a form produced locally by a mid-Atlantic Middle Wood- 
land tool manufacturer. And finally, the presently rec- 
ognized most southerly occurrence of Ramah chert is 
a large, impressive biface (fig. 1 4.1 1 ) found in Riverton, 
Maryland, and formerly in the Judge William Yates col- 
lection of Cambridge, Maryland (Fogelman 1 997; per- 
sonal communication, November 2000). Without closer 
inspection, it is difficult to ascertain whether this speci- 
men has a Maritime Archaic or Late Prehistoric period 

Ramah Chert and Vikings 

Persistent, but inconclusive, references to the presence 
of a pair of Newfoundland-Labrador corner-notched 
projectile points recovered from Norse sites in West- 

ern Greenland are tantalizing suggestions of another 
form of culture contact (Berglund 1 981 ; McGhee 1 984a; 
Rowlett 1 982). One specimen, possibly made of Ramah 
chert, was found in 1930 at Sandnes in Vesterbygden 
(Roussell 1 936:1 06); the second, made of quartz, was 
a stray find recovered from rocks on the shore below 
the Norse ruins at Brattahlid, the very site from which 
Thorfinn Karlsefni left on a Vinland expedition in 1 003 
(Meldgaard 1961). A recent report of Ramah-like 
quartzite from East Greenland potentially complicates 
this situation (Gullov and Rosing 1993). But, as the 
now famous recovery of a Norwegian penny— minted 
between A.D. 1 065 and 1 080— from the Goddard site 
in Maine (Bourque and Cox 1 981 ) attests, small forgot- 
ten objects can, by their context, eloquently attest to 
complex historical processes and events. 

Questionable Associations of Ramah Chert 

Finally, there are a number of references to the occur- 
rence of Ramah chert that have surfaced in the litera- 
ture that I believe need to be discredited. Anecdotal 
references sometimes have a way of entrenching them- 
selves, no matter that the evidence is strictly hearsay. 
In his initial discussion of Ramah chert in the Hamilton 
Inlet monograph, Fitzhugh (1 972b:40) makes reference 
to the appearance of Ramah chert artifacts recovered 
from as far away as Maryland and Florida (repeated by 
Lazenby [1980:632] and Wright [1995:194]). The 
Maryland find, which Fitzhugh heard about from James 
Tuck, appears to be the Judge William Yates specimen 
previously referred to. The Florida specimen was re- 
ported by the Labrador geologist Everett Wheeler. 
Fitzhugh himself never saw these artifacts, and I have 
been unable to affirm the Florida attribution. 

In Vermont, several bifaces from the Boucher site, 
an Early Woodland cemetery near Swanton, have erro- 
neously been identified as being made of Ramah chert 
(Haviland and Power 1 994:98). Instead, they are al- 
most certainly Mistassini quartzite from Lac Albanel in 
central Quebec (McCaffrey personal communication; 
Heckenberger et al. 1990). 

1 80 


It is interesting to speculate why the Ramah chert 
trail does not appear to penetrate into the Great 
Lakes region of the midcontinent. The St. Lawrence 
seems every bit a natural highway as do routes along 
the coast. Yet a casual examination of museum col- 
lections (Boston, New York, Washington) has yet to 
ferret out Ramah chert specimens, beyond the one 
western New York biface. The westernmost distri- 
bution of Ramah chert is attributable to a Maritime 
Archaic bipointed biface found near Peterborough, 
Ontario (Moira McCaffrey, personal communication). 9 
Other than the previous reference to specimens seen 
by J. V. Wright (1995:194), and the specimens re- 
ported by Pilon (1 999), there are no reports of Ramah 
chert from Ontario (Michael Spence, personal com- 
munication 1988) or the Great Lakes region (K.C. 
Dawson and Ronald Mason, personal communica- 
tions 1 987). Mason no longer stands behind his 
statement that Ramah chert artifacts have been re- 
covered at Shield Archaic sites in the Great Lakes 
(Mason 1981:138). 

Although Haviland and Power (1994:63) believe a 
"close relationship" exists between the Vergennes Ar- 
chaic of the Champlain Basin and the Maritime Archaic 
of the Far Northeast, I am less convinced. If we look at 
the distribution of exotic materials recovered from Ar- 
chaic sites in Vermont, the lack of any significant num- 
bers of artifacts made of Ramah chert or other prod- 
ucts from the Maritimes, coupled with the surprising 
quantities of copper tools (cold hammered from Lake 
Superior nuggets) in antiquarian collections, suggests 
Vermont Archaic social relations more likely took a 
westward orientation. Late Archaic interregional cul- 
tural dynamics remain among the most intriguing prob- 
lems in North American archaeology. Pioneering stud- 
ies on the distribution of raw materials far from their 
sources have significantly structured perceptions of 
eastern United States prehistory (e.g., Seeman 1 979; 
Griffin 1 965). Quantifying the nature and dynamics of 
long-distance exchange (of both raw materials and 
artifacts) has provided archaeologists with one of their 

best means to approach questions of precapitalist 
economies, territoriality, and the emergence of politi- 
cal autonomy and authority. 


In this chapter, I have hoped to demonstrate the po- 
tential that the study of the acquisition and distribu- 
tion of lithic raw materials holds for enlightening per- 
ceptions on the social dynamics of prehistoric cultures. 
(It is also an oblique testimony to the value inherent in 
old museum collections.) The absence of discussions 
of lithic raw material variability and use, of descrip- 
tions of lithic sources, and of analyses of raw material 
percentages and composition of assemblages is, with 
some exceptions, the norm in the archaeological 
literature of the Eastern Arctic. Such studies and analy- 
ses, however, would seem to hold the promise of re- 
vealing the intensity (or lack thereof) of interregional 
contact and exchange among dispersed arctic popula- 
tions as has been suggested by this review of the 
use and distribution of Ramah chert. After nearly a 
century of speculation, much of the mystery about 
Ramah chert has been resolved. It remains for the 
next generation of scholars to articulate the mys- 
tery for further revelation of prehistoric adaptations 
in the Eastern Arctic and the Far Northeast. The dis- 
tribution of Ramah chert challenges assumptions 
about the boundedness of arctic and subarctic 
peoples, invites new theories for modeling group 
interaction and interregional contact, trade and com- 
munication, and the boundaries of social groups. 
Some indication of these directions can be inferred 
from the following concluding notes. 

Ramah Chert Distribution during the Late Maritime 
Archaic Period: ca. 4500-3500 B.P. 

The consumption of Ramah chert in Maritime Archaic 
sites in Labrador is an entirely different proposition from 
its appearance and use at Moorehead period buri- 
als in Maine and the Maritimes. In Labrador, Ramah 
use transcends domestic and ceremonial life; it is 


the raw material used in a wide variety of cutting and 
scraping tools recovered from midden and house ex- 
cavations and, as chunks of raw material, flakes, 
stemmed points, and a variety of large biface styles, it 
is found in ocher-stained burial pits. South of Labrador, 
Ramah chert loses its mundane connotations entirely. 
There is no evidence that Ramah chert was being trans- 
ported as a raw material; rather, classic Labrador forms- 
stemmed points, semilunar bifaces, and lanceolate 
bifaces— went south to be "consumed" in an exclusive 
mortuary context. 

The actual number of Ramah chert points and bi- 
faces in the Maine burials is, after all, small and could 
be the result of a single procurement/acquisition event. 
In this respect, the Ramah chert situation is somewhat 
analogous to the appearance of Yellowstone obsidian 
in Ohio Hopewell assemblages where the spectacular 
nature of the raw material and the drama inherent in its 
appearance so far from its source overshadows the 
fact that the actual amount of raw material is slight 
(Griffin 1965:146). So, while the temptation is to see 
the transportation of Ramah chert to New England as 
part of a formal long-distance exchange network, it 
seems equally likely that the Ramah chert in the Maine 
cemeteries could stem from a unique event or from 
several casual encounters. The exclusive appearance 
of Ramah chert in Maine mortuary features suggests 
that special individuals were being selected for ex- 
traordinary treatment. These were individuals who were 
able to parlay their knowledge, reputation, skills, or 
prestige to gain access to exclusive materials. In think- 
ing about the evolution of tribal identities, Bender 
(1 985:23) links social behavior and material culture with 
"leadership geared to specific subsistence activities," 
and with mediation and decision-making pertinent 
to "alliance, marriage and exchange." The specialized 
nature of some Maritime Archaic activities, specifically 
the dangerous activities associated with long-distance 
voyages, deep-sea fishery, and hunting large marine 
mammals, would necessitate special leadership roles 
and organizational authority. Such individuals might 

acquire specialized knowledge of distant peoples 
and resources. 

In a discussion of Maritime Archaic symbolic tradi- 
tions, Fitzhugh (1985c) has suggested that many In- 
dian groups in the Northeast share a common outlook 
that links spiritual identity with individual practices and 
beliefs. The lack of rigid ceremonial practices (sug- 
gested by the variability in regional Late Archaic burial 
conventions) parallels the relatively informal social 
hierarchies that epitomize the loosely knit band struc- 
ture of subarctic Indian groups. In a similar sentiment, 
Bourque (1994) has questioned adaptational mod- 
els of interregional exchange "systems," suggesting 
alternatively that trade might result from unique his- 
torical events initiated by adventuresome individuals 
seeking personal power and prestige. Such a scenario 
might better explain the cluster of Ramah chert 
stemmed points in Maine and the Ramah chert bifaces 
in Rhode Island. 

For hunters, with their intimate knowledge of envi- 
ronment and local resources and their profound belief 
in the spiritual component of killing animals, it is not 
too far-fetched to link the symbolic ideological signifi- 
cance of stone projectile points with social power, 
recognition, and prestige. This is evident in later Early 
and Middle Woodland societies in the Northeast 
where large, exotic bifaces figure prominently in 
mortuary ceremonialism. I have suggested that the 
prevalence of large bifaces in Early-Middle Woodland 
ceremonial features indicates their seminal role in ritual 
behaviors, forming a symbolic medium that was rec- 
ognizable over a large area and among dispersed 
groups (Loring 1 989). 

That these Ramah chert stemmed points were 
not passed along as heirlooms but in every case 
with good provenance were "consumed" as mortu- 
ary offerings suggests that they represented ob- 
jects of significance to individuals, not necessarily 
evidence of an established or sustained formal as- 
sociation between widely separated contempora- 
neous groups. 

1 82 


Ramah Chert Distribution during the Late Prehis- 
toric Period: ca. 1 800-400 B. P. 

The Late Prehistoric period distribution of Ramah chert 
among northeastern Indian groups is quite different 
from that of the preceding Maritime Archaic period. 
The patterns of Ramah chert occurrence in New En- 
gland and the Maritimes never suggest actual chert 
procurement expeditions launched from the south. 
As detailed above, the fourth millennium B.P. distribu- 
tion of Ramah chert throughout the Far Northeast is 
limited to specimens manufactured by Maritime Ar- 
chaic Indian groups in central and northern Labrador 
and subsequently dispersed to the south as finished 
objects. With the Late Prehistoric period distribution of 
Ramah chert in the Northeast, however, there is evi- 
dence of both the transport of Labrador-manufactured 
bifaces (the biface from western New York, the speci- 
men from the Saybrook cache, the Yates biface) as 
well as the transport of Ramah chert as a raw material. 
This latter interpretation is supported both by the re- 
covery of Ramah chert flakes, evidence of tool manu- 
facture, and by chipped-stone artifacts made into lo- 
cal (non-Labrador) styles. The transport of raw material 
appears to signal a different mechanism of distribution 
than that of the preceding Maritime Archaic period. 
The distribution of Ramah chert from northern Labra- 
dor is one means we have to question the rigidity, 
permeability, and continuity of prehistoric group bound- 
aries. With a variety of quality, flakable lithic raw mate- 
rial available from local sources, the choice to acquire 
exotic raw material is a social and ideological deci- 
sion, not just an economic one. 

As with the preceding Maritime Archaic cultures, 
Late Prehistoric period Indian groups in Labrador had a 
nearly exclusive reliance on Ramah chert for the manu- 
facture of their chipped-stone assemblage. Ramah chert 
was critical to the success and the definition of social 
and economic systems in Labrador. South of Labrador 
and the Quebec North Shore and in Newfoundland and 
the adjacent Maritime Provinces, local lithic raw mate- 
rials are the preferred choice for tool manufacture, so 

that Ramah chert is not as likely to have such socio- 
economic significance. 

It seems plausible that exotic materials like Ramah 
chert would come attached to knowledge and infor- 
mation that had social connotations. In Labrador and 
along the Strait of Belle Isle, early Late Prehistoric pe- 
riod Indian populations would have had contact with 
coeval Middle and Late Dorset groups and competed 
for access to certain coastal resources. The large quan- 
tities of Ramah chert in the collections from the Strait 
of Belle Isle and the adjacent Quebec North Shore sig- 
nal strong, direct channels of trade and communica- 
tion with Indian groups in Labrador. This interpretation 
is further strengthened by the presence of caches of 
Ramah chert bifaces, which could be construed to in- 
dicate direct procurement or acquisition of Ramah from 
the source in northern Labrador. Caches suggest con- 
trol over a valued resource. Such an interpretation ar- 
gues for the existence of a strong Indian identity with 
allegiance to nonlocal groups as a hedge against sub- 
sistence shortfalls and ethnic competition. In Maine 
and the Maritimes, Ramah chert would no longer pro- 
vide the critical means of social integration and re- 
gional interdependence that it clearly did along the 
Strait of Belle Isle and the Quebec North Shore (where 
the percentages of Ramah chert in site assemblages 
are very high), but the information that accompanied 
the raw material would serve to define relationships 
between groups and prevent rigid social and territorial 
boundaries from forming. Lacking preservation of ex- 
otic materials— food, plant materials, medicine, fur- 
chert may be, as Barbara Luedkte (1 987:45) has called 
it, "the tip of the trade iceberg.'" 

A social system that facilitated the distribution of 
exotic raw materials remained in place throughout the 
Late Prehistoric period in the Far Northeast. The large, 
square-based Ramah chert bifaces recovered from the 
caches near Blanc Sablon, at Kegashka, and in Saybrook, 
Connecticut, are early diagnostic forms at Daniel Rattle 
complex sites and date to ca.l 800-1 400 B.P., while 
the small, notched Ramah chert projectile points from 


1 8 3 

sites in the Maritimes and 
New England postdate 
1000 B.P. At the Coddard 
site, Ramah chert was dis- 
tributed throughout the 
Ceramic Period occupa- 
tion so that its presence 
is not indicative of just a 
single procurement epi- 
sode (Bourque and Cox 

To the best of my 
knowledge, the southern 
Ramah chert trail ends 
with the bifaces recov- 
ered in the Say-brook, 
Connecticut cache and 

with the Yates biface from Maryland. These artifacts 
have traveled nearly 3,500 kilometers from their 
source in Labrador's Torn-gat Mountains. They re- 
main a tantalizing testament to the power of mate- 
rial objects to evoke wonder and amazement, even 
in such disparate social contexts as a feature in a 
Late Woodland ceremony and as objects of twenty- 
first-century academic speculation. 10 

Ramah Bay and Ramah Chert 

Before leaving Labrador it seems appropriate to con- 
sider the less tangible dimension of Ramah chert ac- 
quisition and use. Given the pervasive spiritual dimen- 
sion in the lifeways of northern hunters and the promi- 
nence of Ramah chert use, at least by prehistoric Indi- 
ans and Paleoeskimos in Labrador, it is inconceivable 
that the material, and the place from where it was 
derived, would not have been laden with spiritual sig- 
nificance. Ritual and ceremony would have been an 
integral feature of procurement activities. In consider- 
ing the spiritual landscape attendant on Ramah chert 
procurement, I offer the following observation. 

Some of the most accessible and highest quality 
chert at Ramah is to be obtained along the walls of a 

14.1 2/ The quarry cirque at Ramah Bay, Labrador 

prominent glacial cirque carved into the mountain 
massif on the north side of Ramah Bay (fig. 1 4. 1 2). The 
chert-bearing deposits are reached by following a 
stream that drains the cirque. The final approach to 
the quarry bowl passes through a dramatic band of 
iron-rich rocks that have stained the streambed and 
surrounding rocks a brilliant blood red. Here, the nar- 
row stream valley is at its most constricted point with 
sheer cliffs rising on both sides. The symbolic pairing 
of the red-ocher-stained rocks with the source for the 
material with which the most sacred practice— the killing 
of animals— was intimately associated must have fig- 
ured significantly in the telling of the story. 


I suspect that Elmer Harp has long forgotten our 
first meeting when, in 1971, as an undergraduate 
from Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont, I wan- 
dered down to the Dartmouth College Museum in 
Hanover to look through their boxes of arrowheads 
from northern New England as part of a B.A. thesis on 
Vermont archaeology. I hadn't met too many archae- 
ologists then, so Elmer set the standard for politeness 
in the profession; at least he wasn't impatient at my 

1 84 


then decidedly antiquarian proclivities. My archaeo- 
logical elders were Warren King Moorehead, C. C. 
Willoughby, Maurice Robbins, William Ritchie, and a 
cadre of odd Vermonters (Leslie Truax, William Ross, 
John Bailey, and Godfrey Olsen). Armed with a copy of 
Ritchie's A Typology of New York State Projectile Points, 
I was then attempting to unravel the prehistory of 
northern New England, arguably a prehistoric landscape 
every bit as remote and disjointed as that of the East- 
ern Arctic. 

A very conspicuous thanks is due Moira Mc-Caffrey, 
who not only has the coveted distinction of ferreting 
out the earliest reference to Ramah chert in the litera- 
ture but was also responsible for bringing information 
on the Stubbert cache to my attention. I would like to 
acknowledge Noel Broadbent for translating the 
Berglund article for me and William Fitzhugh, Moira 
McCaffrey, and Daniel Odess for their comments on 
earlier drafts. 

At least for some of us, Ramah Bay remains a 
haunted place, impossible to write about and not re- 
member Anne Abraham, who disappeared there dur- 
ing the Smithsonian's initial reconnaissance in 1976. 
No one has dwelled in Ramah Bay since the Moravians 
abandoned their short-lived mission community (1 871 - 
1 907). The Moravian grave markers in "God's Acre" 
have fallen so that only a few stones from the mission's 
foundation and the row of Inuit sod-house ruins re- 
main. Time has a way of playing tricks in northern La- 
brador. No doubt, on their leaving, the Moravians were 
aware of the Old Testament passage, if not the irony, 
from 1 Kings 1 5:21-22: "and they took away the 
stones of Ramah." 


1 . The quotation in the chapter title comes 
from Old Testament I Kings 1 5:21-22. 

2. I am indebted to Moira McCaffrey for sleuth- 
ing out this reference. 

3. In the Smithsonian Institution, NMAI #24/ 
9538; no additional provenance data is available. 

4. Found by Maurice Crandall ca. 1 943. Three 
additional similar stemmed points and a distal por- 
tion of a large biface, all of Ramah chert, from this 
site are in the NMAI collections (20/2352). 

5. In the Smithsonian Institution, NMNH #A- 
6376: G. A. Boardman collection, Milltown, Maine. 

6. This item is from the J. H. Clark collection 
purchased in 1875. Clark acquired archaeologi- 
cal material from throughout southern New En- 
gland. The biface is 101 mm in length and has a 
broad tip and a broad expanding blade; this is 49 
mm wide at its shoulders where it forms an ob- 
tuse angle that becomes the stem with straight 
sides and base; it has heavily ground lower lat- 
eral and basal edges. 

7. Large unifacial Ramah chert scrapers have 
been recovered at the Old Mission Point site in 
the northern part of the province and at the Howe 
site on the Northwest Miramichi River (P. Allen, 
personal communicaion 1987) 

8. At the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Ar- 
chaeological Association in Ottawa, May 2002, I 
had the opportunity to examine this artifact in 
the company of David Keenlyside, Rob Ferguson, 
David Denton, and Moira McCaffrey. We all agreed 
that the specimen certainly appears to be made 
of Ramah chert. The artifact was a surface find 
from the eroding Jones site on PEI found by Rollie 
and Jeanette Jones. It is clearly associated with a 
group of small, asymmetrical triangular projectile 
points with deep concave bases that have been 
recovered from the Jones site, as well as at other 
sites in New Brunswick and on the Magdelaine 
Islands, which are attributable to a Late Paleoindian 
tradition dating to circa 9000-10,000 B.P. (See 
also Tuck, 1 984) 

9. In the Royal Ontario Museum #22896, re- 
covered from Concession 6, Carden Township, 
Victoria County, Ontario. The biface is missing one 
end and the surviving section is 23 cm long and 
6.5 cm wide. 

1 0. Least one suppose that Ramah chert arti- 
facts remain exclusively in the purview of research- 
ers and archaeologists— and Labrador's Innu and 
Inuit descendants of those who left the tools and 
debitage behind— it is worth noting that a Ramah 
chert biface figures significantly in William Sara- 
bande's (1998) "First Americans," a novel of the 
post-Pleistocene maritime Northeast. 


1 8 5 

h.storu of the Archaeological pvesearch 
in Arctic Quebec 


When William Fitzhugh suggested to me that I could 
grapple with the history of the archaeology of Arctic 
Quebec (now Nunavik), in which Elmer Harp had par- 
ticipated, I had to confess that, although having been 
deeply involved in active research in Quebec for more 
than twenty-five years, I had never found the time to 
step back from it to start such an exercise. Therefore, 
the offer was a welcome opportunity. I soon discov- 
ered that trying to understand the evolution of archae- 
ology in northern Quebec could be as complicated 
and baffling, as subjective and sensitive, as any ar- 
chaeological interpretation. In other words, it was fas- 
cinating. I quickly realized that I could not avoid deal- 
ing with the psychological, sociological, and political 
context of this subject. The following sketchy review 
needs more archival research and personal interviews, 
but it is, at least, a beginning. I have chosen to orga- 
nize the discussion in three time periods: the interna- 
tional pioneering period; the Quebec period; and the 
Inuit period. 

International Pioneering Period 

The historically recorded geographic exploration of the 
Quebec-Labrador coasts began at least as early as 
Henry Hudson's 1619 voyage and Thomas Button's 
1612 explorations. Nevertheless, little archaeological 
information was registered before the middle of the 
twentieth century. From 1 920 to 1 940, the European 
arctic expeditions, which established the first scien- 
tific framework of Eastern Arctic prehistory, closely ap- 
proached, but never seemed to have entered, the 

territory of northern Quebec. Although Therkel Mathias- 
sen (1927a, b) and Diamond Jenness (1925) had re- 
ferred to archaeological collections from the Quebec- 
Labrador Peninsula and from the Belcher Islands, and 
Lucien Turner's (1 894) ethnological studies had laid the 
cultural groundwork for interpreting the recent Innu 
and Inuit past, this region was largely bypassed by 
explorers who were primarily interested in the North- 
west Passage and by anthropologists who were largely 
concerned with whether the Eskimo culture originated 
in the central or western Arctic. It is important to note, 
however, that the Dorset culture was first identified by 
the Canadian anthropologist Diamond Jenness in 1 92 5 
from artifacts collected at Cape Dorset and Coats Is- 
land, which are close to northern Quebec. Unlike La- 
brador, where Duncan Strong (1930) and Junius Bird 
(1945) excavated prehistoric structures, ethnologists 
and geologists working in Ungava made few observa- 
tions of archaeological interest before 1940. Some 
aspects of the history of research in eastern Ungava 
and in a northern Labrador have already been discussed 
in the context of the Tuvaaluk Project (Plumet and Gang- 
loff 1990; see also Tuvaaluk's websites: www.unites. and unites. 

1 87 

Following the discovery of the Dorset culture, 
its origin and distribution became the hottest prob- 
lem in Eastern Arctic prehistory. In 1935 and 1 936, 
archaeologist Douglas Leechman (1943), working 
on the northeastern fringe of New Quebec at 
Nunaingok on McLelan Strait and on its northwest- 
ern margin in the Nuvuk Islands (fig. 1 5.1), discov- 
ered and tested Dorset sites. In 1939, based on 
artifacts collected in the Belcher Islands off the east- 
ern shore of Hudson Bay, George I. Quimby (1940) 
described the Manitounik culture as a mixture of 
Dorset and Thule cultures. In 1 944 and 1 946 while 
conducting geodetical surveys, Thomas H. Manning 
(1948, 1951) noted Thule semisubterranean dwell- 
ings on several islands along the central and north- 
eastern coast of Hudson Bay and on the mainland 
near the mouth of the Kovik River. He also passed 
along information he had learned from a trader 
about a group of Dorset houses on Sugluk (now 
Salluit) Island at the southwestern entrance of Hud- 
son Strait. 

The first archaeological information from the inte- 
rior of the Ungava Peninsula came from Jean Michea, a 
French ethnologist who, like his fellow countryman 
Edgar Aubert de la Rue, 
was a geologist, and from 
the French Canadian ge- 
ographer Pierre Gadbois, 
who was a member of 
one of Jacques Rousseau's 
expeditions. Rousseau, a 
prominent ethnobotanist 
from Quebec, carried out 
extensive pioneering work 
throughout the entire 
Quebec-Labrador Penin- 
sula from Lakes Mistassini 
and Albanel north to the 
Korok and Allurilik Rivers. 
He also crossed the Torn- 
gat Mountains nearly to 

Saglek on the Labrador coast. His fields of expertise 
included all aspects of the natural sciences as well as 

In 1948, Rousseau's expedition left Povungnituk 
on eastern Hudson Bay by canoe, traveling up the 
Kogaluk River to Payne Lake and then down Payne 
River to Ungava Bay (Rousseau 1948, 1949; Malaurie 
and Rousseau 1964). At the eastern end of Payne 
Lake the party discovered prehistoric sites that they 
estimated were of "extreme importance" (Michea 
1 950:55). Michea rapidly tested one site containing 
thirty houses and recognized three phases of occupa- 
tion, one of which seemed to be Dorset. Clearly aware 
of the importance of his discovery, he noted that this 
was "the first time Dorset features have been known 
to occur so far from the sea" (Michea 1 950:57). While 
Michea tested this site, Rousseau explored others. From 
Payne Bay, they visited Inuit camps along the coast 
between Cape Hopes Advance and Salluit. In his re- 
port, Michea mentions the existence of many ar- 
chaeological ruins at Cape Hopes Advance, Diana 
Bay, Wakeham Bay, and Sugluk (Salluit), noting that 
most of them "had been excavated by the natives 
themselves for their own use so that their importance 

15. 1/ Map of Arctic Quebec, now called Nunavik. 

1 88 


for archaeology has been much reduced" (Michea 
1950:58), but he does not give any site locations. At 
about the same period, in 1954, Swiss ethnologist 
Claude Desgoffe collected artifacts from semisub- 
terranean dwellings that he thought conformed to 
Quimby's Manitounik culture (Desgoffe 1955a, 1955b). 
Shortly thereafter, Desgoffe drowned in a boating ac- 
cident in the Belchers. 

The year 1957 marked the beginning of archaeo- 
logically oriented research in Arctic Quebec, as well as 
a turn in Quebec history and mentality. Rousseau was 
appointed Director of the National Museum of Canada 
in Ottawa in September 1956 (fig. 1 5.2) and shortly 
thereafter instigated William E. Taylor's work in Ungava. 
In 1957, Taylor began system- 
atic archaeological explorations 
at Payne Lake in northern Un- 
gava. On his way into the inte- 
rior, Taylor stopped at Payne 
Bay, made a brief survey of the 
estuary, and spent one evening 
on Pamiok Island (Taylor 1 958). 
According to what he told me 
much later, Rousseau had asked 
Taylor to investigate a different 
Payne Lake site than what 
Michea had visited, which he 
thought was very important. In 
the course of his thirty-seven 
days at Payne Lake, during 
which he tested six sites, Taylor 
failed to find Rousseau's site, 
and on September 6 flew out 
of the interior, and its cloud of 
blackflies, to the more breezy Salluit area on southern 
Hudson Strait. There, until the beginning of October, 
he conducted preliminary work at Thule and Paleo- 
eskimo sites. During the next two years, he prospected 
and excavated Pre-Dorset and Dorset sites around the 
northwestern tip of the peninsula, at Salluit Island, 
Ivujivik, Mansel Island, and other locations in north- 

1 5.2/ Jacques Rousseau, Director of the Can 
adian Museum of Civilization 

eastern Hudson Bay (Taylor 1 959). His reports and syn- 
theses (Taylor 1 964a, 1 964b) are the first comprehen- 
sive treatment of Nouveau-Quebec prehistory. Taylor's 
results confirmed and elaborated upon the sugges- 
tions that Elmer Harp had made earlier based on his 
work on the Dorset culture in Newfoundland: that Arc- 
tic Quebec was to be included in the Dorset and Pre- 
Dorset culture area; that data from the Arnapik and 
Tyara sites demonstrated Dorset origins in Canadian 
Pre-Dorset (the subject of Taylor's 1968 dissertation); 
and that a stonewalled longhouse at the Pamiok site, 
which Taylor named Imaha ("maybe" in Inuktitut), might 
be Dorset. Taylor also excavated a burial containing a 
skeleton associated with Dorset artifacts and, for this 
reason thought he had 
found the first Dorset human 
remains (Laughlin and Taylor 
I960)! I discuss this burial 
further below. In any case, 
in 1 964, Taylor wrote that 
"perhaps the more salient 
feature of Quebec archaeol- 
ogy is a monumental igno- 
rance of it based on a ludi- 
crous dearth of fieldwork." 

At the end of the 1950s, 
a serious conflict exploded 
at the new Human History 
Branch of the National Mu- 
seum of Canada between 
Rousseau, the first French 
Canadian to be appointed 
director, and some of his col- 
leagues. The troubles had 
been set off by the discovery in 1 951 , at a politically 
sensitive location, of the site of the Long-Sault battle 
by a young archaeologist named Thomas Lee. These 
conflicts made newspaper headlines in Ottawa and 

I believe that the eviction of Jacques Rousseau from 
the Museum has not been without consequence for 


1 89 

the development of archaeology in Quebec. After three 
years of teaching at the Sorbonne in Paris at Claude 
Levi-Strauss's invitation, Rousseau returned from exile 
and entered the newly created Centre d'Etudes 
Nordiques (CEN) at Laval University. This center, whose 
founder and first director was Louis-Edmond Hamelin, 
was to take a leading role in scientific research in Arc- 
tic Quebec, including ethnology and archaeology. 

The end of the fifties and beginning of the sixties 
were characterized by a new, and at first quiet, affir- 
mation of the French Canadian identity: "la Revolution 
tranquille." For a community eager to act like a nation, 
archaeology can be one of the most innocent ways to 
reappropriate national identity and territory. Conse- 
quently, it was not accidental that French Canadian 
archaeology emerged among amateur groups at the 
very end of the fifties. In promoting scientific research 
in Arctic Quebec, Quebecois hoped to establish their 
right to what remained of the northern part of the prov- 
ince, which they called New Quebec and where Indi- 
ans and Inuit had, for a long time, been ruled by the 
federal government. In 1961, with Georges-Emile 
Lapalme as the first Minister of Cultural Affairs of Que- 
bec, an Archaeological Service was organized. Histori- 
cal monuments were protected by a law inspired by 
the French "Loi Poincare." 

I came to Canada on December 2, 1 962, after five 
months in Iceland and Greenland. I intended to stay 
only six to eight months in order to complete my re- 
search on Norse expeditions to the New World and I 
certainly did not expect to be attending the Elders 
Conference thirty years later. I became involved in Que- 
bec archaeology immediately. Although I had been 
interested in archaeological research for a long time, 
especially in the Near and Middle East, in Canada I found 
an opportunity to work in remote areas where I could 
combine travel, science, and my interest in barren lands, 
whether hot or cold. 

After I finished my Ph.D. at the University of Paris in 
1 966, Louis-Edmond Hamelin asked me to assist Tho- 
mas Lee on his next expedition in Arctic Quebec (fig. 

1 5.3). In Quebec, I was probably one of the few French- 
speaking students trained in archaeology who also 
was familiar with Norse problems. Since 1 964, Rousseau 
had asked the CEN to sponsor Lee's work because of 
his problems with the Human History Branch of the 
National Museum of Man. Lee had taught North Ameri- 
can archaeology at Laval University and was subsi- 
dized by Hamelin to conduct archaeology at Payne 
Lake. Rousseau and his son Jerome joined the team for 
a few weeks to help relocate the sites that had been 
discovered in 1948, which Taylor supposedly had 
missed in 1957 (this point was mentioned as impor- 
tant by Rousseau and by Lee; I add "supposedly" be- 
cause Taylor did not agree with this point), and to 
orient Lee to their study. Once in the field, Lee found 
several new sites, including one that he claimed was a 
Viking settlement with a church. If the Norse had settled 
inland, it would be logical to expect to find some of 
their vestiges along the coast. With this possibility in 
mind and armed with information received from the 
Inuit, in 1 966 Lee and I surveyed the west-central coast 
of Ungava Bay. We found nothing except the Pamiok 
site (figs. 1 5.4, 5), where Lee located three longhouses 
(Lee 1966a, 1966b, 1966c, 1967a, 1967b, 1967c, 
1968a, 1968b, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1973, 1974a, 
1974b, 1979c, 1 979d). 

Allow me to digress briefly about the strange feel- 
ing I had at that time as a French European in the 
province of Quebec, since this illustrates something 
about the development of Quebec archaeology. At 
that time, the Quebec amateur archaeological societ- 
ies relied on English Canadian or American scholars to 
supervise their excavations and help prepare their re- 
ports. At Laval University, French was the teaching lan- 
guage for nearly everyone except Lee, who lectured in 
English. French was the dominant language in Quebec 
City, but in Montreal west of Bleury Street, English was 
usually the only language accepted in stores and pub- 
lic offices. If one dared to address a storekeeper in 
French, he was, at best, met with a polite and steady, 
"Would you please speak English!" 2 The University of 

1 90 


Montreal's Department of Anthropology offered 
courses on Old World archaeology and Central America 
but none on North America and the Arctic. In the terri- 
tory of New Quebec, the newly installed Direction 
Generale du Nouveau Quebec had to compete with 
the old, established federal Ministry of Indian Affairs 
(Hamelin 1 975: 259). After arriving in Fort Chimo, one 
was required to obtain a permit from both administra- 
tions, which pretended to ignore each other's exist- 
ence. As a French Canadian, one felt rather undesirable 
in this northern part of the province. In the small vil- 
lages, the provincial schools that were built to teach 
French and Inuktitut were large and luxurious but empty, 
but the federal schools were old, modest, and full of 
pupils learning English. Very few adult Inuit at that time 
spoke English, but even fewer spoke French. The fed- 
eral government, the Hudson Bay Company, and the 
English Canadians represented an enduring security 
for many Inuit, who had bad memories of the French 
Revillon Freres Company's departure in 1936. And to 
complete the picture, being an archaeologist, let alone 
from Quebec, one was regarded as a strange and 
somewhat suspicious novelty, a kind of miserable tourist 
with no serious purpose. Archaeologists could not 
compare with the rich fishing parties, the geological 
surveyors or mining company experts. Nevertheless, in 
Fort Chimo, some old settlers were interested in ar- 
chaeology and served as valuable informants. 

But, I would like to continue the history. The elders 
and near-elders are certainly familiar with Thomas Lee, 
who had been in conflict with nearly the entire archaeo- 
logical establishment through various publications (Lee 
1970, 1974, 1979a, 1979b, 1980) and in his journal 
Anthropological Journal of Canada. Nevertheless, I owe 
to Tom Lee my first experience in Ungava archaeology 
and one of my major research subjects: the Dorset 
longhouse (Plumet 1 969). If I had not been familiar with 
loneliness and barren landscapes, I would have been 
discouraged by Lee's hermit-like way of life. But my 
French cooking made him far more unhappy than I 
did. For psychological reasons, Lee, equivocally 


/ 5.3/ Thomas Lee with Willie Thomasie on The way to 
Pamiok in 1966 

supported by Rousseau, needed to be in aggressive 
and provocative opposition to the archaeological es- 
tablishment and its interpretations. To escape damag- 
ing and embarrassing disputes, most archaeologists 
preferred to ignore his attacks and minimize discus- 
sion of his Norse interpretations. But by doing so, they 
have underrated his real contribution to Ungava pre- 
history. With his proud anxiety and need to distinguish 
his standards, he published more accurate site descrip- 
tions, drew more detailed maps of structures and settle- 
ments, and excavated more carefully and slowly, and 
with deeper (even if biased) thought, than many other 
archaeologists working in the Eastern Arctic during the 
1 960s. Thus, I may confirm, after having re-excavated 
it myself under Lee's direction, that the Imaha Dorset 
burial is actually an Inuit burial placed inside a Dorset 
"heavy tent ring" that reused its large stones (cf. Lee 
1 968 etseq). 

In concluding my discussion of these two very 
honest, but very peculiar characters, I want to say that 

1 9 1 

7 5.4/ 1 ma ha II Dorset long house in 1966, before excavation 

I will never forget the deep bitterness expressed by 
Lee and suggested by Rousseau. The two of them 
helped to put the archaeology of Arctic Quebec on 
track, perhaps as a way to compensate for their diffi- 
culties. Their endeavors fit perfectly, if unintentionally, 
with the nationalist feelings growing among French 
Canadians during this period. But the way that Lee and 
Rousseau reacted, through their specific personalities, 
to their conflict with the National Museum of Man con- 
tributed to the isolation of Ungava archaeology from 
the mainstream of normal scientific discussion. 

Although I would have been delighted to exca- 
vate a Viking longhouse in Ungava, I was not con- 
vinced by Lee s argument and thought it was neces- 
sary to do more exploration of, and comparison with, 
other Dorset and Norse houses. I appreciated the op- 
portunity that Hamelin offered me to begin my own 
research in 1 967. My choice of the eastern coast of 
Ungava Bay, Killiniq, and northern Labrador was influ- 
enced by Rousseau and by my desire to avoid any 
interference with Lee's research area. I also wanted to 
check the direction of the Paleoeskimo peopling of 
Ungava Bay and the possibility of Norse remains along 
this coast. My first attempt, assisted by Gerard Cordeau, 
was not very successful because of logistical and 
weather reasons, as well as the carelessness of the 
transport company: a pilot abandoned our food boxes 
on a beach at low tide, leaving us to expect it on each 

incoming plane! We 
only learned what 
had happened two 
months later. 

Thanks to the 
Inuit from Port Bur- 
well and to the hos- 
pitality of the New- 
foundlander who 
was in charge of the 
post, I was able to 
do some survey 
work on Button Is- 
land (fig. 1 5.6), around Killinek Island, in McLelan Strait, 
and along the Labrador coast as far south as Eclipse 
Harbor. I even succeeded in traveling in a river canoe 
south along the eastern coast of Ungava Bay, where I 
experienced the same difficulties as those encountered 
1 50 years earlier by the Moravian missionaries, Kohl- 
meister and Kmoch (Kohlmeister and Kmoch 1814; 
Plumet and Gangloff 1 990). We discovered Dorset, 
Thule, and Labrador Inuit sites and tested one site on 
Jackson Island. At the time, I was unaware of the sig- 
nificance of these incursions in Newfoundland territory 
and only later understood the history of frontier prob- 
lems between Quebec and Newfoundland and the 
deep resentment of the Quebecois for amputating part 
of Quebec's territory by order of the Privy Council in 
1 927 (Privy Council 1 927; Dorion 1 963; Hamelin 1 975: 
263; Quebec Government 1971). 

As a result of CEN's expansion of activities in the 
North, French Canadians, along with international sci- 
entists from several fields, became involved in Arctic 
Quebec research. This research was conducted under 
the authority of the Center, which had its own logis- 
tics bases in the north and its own publication series. 
One of its main projects— the Hudsonie Project— was 
headed by Hamelin and Andre Cailleux, a well-known 
French geologist (Hamelin and Cailleux 1 968). Around 
this same time, the Quebec government's political and 
administrative presence became more visible and more 

1 92 


effective. French Canadian scholars felt more at home 
in northern Quebec, and interdisciplinary collaborations 
could be undertaken with better logistical support. 

From 1 968 on, Lee concentrated on excavating 
and reconstructing the Pamiok longhouses (fig. 1 5.5) 
and on exploring the western coast of Ungava Bay. 
The period between 1968 and 1972 corresponds to 
the climax of the northern Quebec "Viking saga." In 
1 968, I submitted a research program to the CEN to 
undertake explorations north of Lee's work area and 
along Hudson Strait. I completed this program in 1 968 
and 1 970, taking into account information collected 
by the French ethnologist Bernard Saladin d'Anglure, 
who had just discovered in the Wakeham area the 
only Dorset petroglyphs ever known (Saladin d'- 
Anglure 1962, 1963). An anecdote illustrates how 
marginal archaeology still was in Quebec in 1 968. I 
had planned to work in the Wakeham Bay area, but 
upon my arrival in Fort Chimo, I learned that another 
French Canadian archaeologist, Georges Barre, a Uni- 
versity of Montreal graduate student, was there for 
the same purpose. Fortunately, northwestern Ungava 
Bay and Diana Bay were so rich archaeologically that I 
did not have to compete with Barre, who did excel- 
lent preliminary work (Barre 1 970). 

By the end of the summer of 1 968, a general sur- 
vey of Arctic Quebec had been completed in the east 
and northwest coasts of Ungava Bay, around the 
mouths of the George and Payne Rivers, 
Diana Bay, Joy Bay, the Salluit and Ivujivik 
areas, and Povungnituk (Wallrath 1 958). In- 
land, Lee had explored the Fort Chimo vi- 
cinity, the Lower Payne River and the east 
end of Payne Lake. Lee and I had started 
excavations on two Dorset sites with 
longhouses: Pamiok by Lee and Diana Is- 
land by myself. The western part of Ungava 
Bay as well as Diana Bay were especially 
rich in Paleoeskimo sites whereas the area 
near Wakeham yielded more abundant 
Thule and Neoeskimo sites. 

In 1969, when members of the CEN's Hudsonie 
Project along the eastern coast of Hudson Bay be- 
came puzzled by some structures in boulder fields near 
Poste-de-la-Baleine, which could not be explained by 
natural causes, Hamelin asked me to determine if they 
were anthropogenic. After a brief survey, I identified 
three Paleoeskimo sites between 50 and 1 00 meters 
above sea level. As strange as the choice of a boulder 
field for a village site may seem to us, the Pre-Dorset 
people had selected a well-drained location for their 
settlement. The BAL-1 house structures and artifacts 
attested to an early Pre-Dorset occupation that was 
farther south than any others then known. Their loca- 
tion could be explained by a paleoenvironmental re- 
construction made possible through interdisciplinary 
collaboration (Plumet 1 976, 1 980). Subsequent surveys 
of other boulder fields in Arctic Quebec revealed many 
other supposed Paleoeskimo sites, similar to those near 
Poste-de-la-Baleine, as high as 1 40 meters above sea 
level (I. Badgley, personal communication; Gendron and 
Pinard 2000; Gosselin et al. 1 974 ). 

The end of this initial period of research in Arctic 
Quebec was characterized by large survey efforts that 
were conducted with very poor logistical and fi- 
nancial support. The meager funding available 
ranged from $1 000 to $4000 for two months of field- 
work, with almost no salary for assistants and no funds 
for analysis. There was no specific program to finance 

/ 5. 5/ Imaha II after reconstruction by Lee in 1 968 


1 9 3 

archaeological research and, except for the CEN at Laval 
University, where archaeology was marginal to the 
university's research program, no academic department 
was seriously involved in Northern or Amerindian ar- 

Quebec Period 

In Southern Quebec, tremendous changes occurred 
in social and political life during the late 1 960s. As 
a graduate student in France, returning to Montreal 
every summer between 1 966 and 1 969 before flying 
north for fieldwork, I was probably in a better position 
to perceive the changes than if I had stayed in Quebec 
continuously. In addition to evolution of self-affirma- 
tion that began with the so-called Quiet Revolution, 
a number of external or accidental events accelerated 
this movement: the Montreal Exposition of 1 967, which 
awakened many people in Quebec to international 
affairs, especially to the world's cultures and their 
heritage; the 1968 political movement that helped 
acquaint local activists with those of other countries; 
and the drift away from a "Quiet Revolution" to a less 
quiet, less folkloric, but more spectacular and effec- 
tive action. The elders and near-elders will remem- 
ber the events that punctuated the usual quietness 
of Quebec and of Canada between 1 967 and 1 970. 
They culminated in October 1970 with a double kid- 
naping and the death of Pierre Laporte, a minister in 
the Quebec government. By European standards, 
these October days appeared amateurish and un- 
impressive, but by Canadian standards, they embod- 
ied both the bad and good results of a real revolution. 
Even before 1 970, there was a perceptible increase in 
self-confidence among Quebec citizens and, west of 
Bleury Street in Montreal, a decrease in the arrogance 
of store keepers and bank clerks who started to an- 
swer in French or flatly apologized if they could not! 
This was not merely anecdotal but symbolically im- 
portant because the ability to use one's own national 
language in one's own country is culturally and so- 
cially vital for a people. 

For archaeology, the changes induced by these 
political and social transformations were significant. In 
1969, inspired by the 1968 political movements, the 
University of Quebec was created. One of its goals 
was to encourage scientific and cultural development 
in Quebec society. My colleague, Gilles Tasse, and I 
were appointed to the Montreal campus of this uni- 
versity specifically to create a program in Amerindian 
and Eskimo archaeology. Although a few archaeology 
courses had been taught as early as 1 963 at the Uni- 
versity of Montreal, these courses had been oriented 
primarily toward Mexico and the Old World. In the new 
program, even officers of the National Museum of Man 
in Ottawa were invited to give courses in Amerindian 
prehistory. At the end, with pressure from students, 
volunteers, and nationalist groups, the Department of 
Anthropology became involved in Amerindian ar- 
chaeology. In another change, the Ministry of Edu- 
cation, in addition to granting scholarships, began 
to offer specific programs to subsidize academic re- 
search in the humanities, including archaeology. In 1 970, 
the archaeology of North America, in addition to many 
other new subjects, gained official academic status in 
Quebec. This was a year of optimism, but also of illu- 
sions. While it was evident that we had to work in 
French, the limited tradition of archaeological training 
in Quebec was in English. The European French lan- 
guage could not be imported tel quel to transmit the 
concept of North American archaeology because it 
would have been perceived in Quebec like a different 
form of imperialism. Mere translation was meaning- 
less; the insertion of American words and concepts in 
French sentences would have resulted in a 
"creolization" of the archaeological literature (Plumet 
1987). Certainly at that time it was easier and more 
rewarding for one's career to publish in English. One 
can retrace— with a sense of humor— the inconsisten- 
cies and errors in the first publications on Quebec ar- 
chaeology in French. Once again, the elders and near- 
elders will recall the 1 970 Ottawa Canadian Archaeo- 
logical Association meeting when a small group of 

1 94 


young Quebec archaeologists, mostly students, an- 
nounced the creation of their own association, Asso- 
ciation pour la Recherche Archeologique au Quebec 
(ARAQ), and their intention to "archaeologize" in 
French. 3 

In 1 971 , the periodical Recherches Amerindiennes au 
Quebec was created, followed in 1 974 by the Univer- 
sity of Quebec in Montreal's monograph series Paleo- 
Quebec to facilitate the diffusion of research results in 
French. In 1 977, the first issue of Etudes Inuit Studies 
was published at Laval University. The former was de- 
voted to anthropology, including Amerindian and Es- 
kimo archaeology; the second published paleoenviron- 
mental sciences, archaeology, and ethnohistory; and 
the latter specialized in Arctic anthropology and ar- 
chaeology. At the end of the seventies, Recherches Amer- 
indiennes au Quebec started its own monograph series. 
Even today, most research in southern and northern 
Quebec archaeology is disseminated in these publica- 
tions and in those of the Quebec Ministry of Cultural 
Affairs. In addition, the Paleo-Quebec series, which fo- 
cused on arctic regions, began publishing summaries 
in Inuktitut. Since 1 993, this series has been issued by 
Recherches Amerindiennes au Quebec. 

In the climate of Quebec at the dawn of the seven- 
ties, I must say that Elmer Harp's 1 967 to 1 975 expe- 
ditions to Arctic Quebec and the Belcher 
Islands seemed more of a continuation 
of the previous era than the beginning 
of a new one. In 1 970, with the help of 
the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, I tried to 
connect Harp with some Quebec stu- 
dents who would have benefitted from 
his experience, and in 1 972 I organized 
a joint field program between Jean-Paul 
Salaun and Andre Cosselin with the CEN 
project in Guil-laume Delisle Lake, previ- 
ously known as Richmond Gulf. For the 
first time, a multi-disciplinary French Ca- 
nadian scientific expedition, numbering 
more than fifteen persons, worked in 

nearly the same area as an American team. While no 
coordination was undertaken at that time, during 1 972 
a new law was passed on the Cultural Heritage of 
Quebec, and, after 1 974, a research permit was re- 
quired to perform archaeological fieldwork. As for my 
work, I greatly appreciated the open exchange and 
sharing of data I had with Elmer Harp, which improved 
my 1 976 and 1 979 monographs on the Poste-de-la- 
Baleine (now Kuujjuarapik) Pre-Dorset sites. 

These field projects first established the presence, 
along this stretch of the east coast of Hudson Bay, of 
Paleoeskimo occupation, including early Pre-Dorset 
components and an undated Dorset component at 
Great Whale; a very late Dorset component, which in- 
cluded a Norse copper pendant, at the mouth of 
Guillaume-Delisle Lake (Harp 1974-1975); and several 
unusually large Paleoeskimo mid-passage structures in 
the northern part of the lake (Gosselin et al. 1974). In 
the Belcher Islands, Elmer Harp found a complete se- 
quence of raised beaches with Paleoeskimo settlements 
that was comparable, although less extensive, than 
that found by Jorgen Meldgaard at Igloolik. The Belcher 
sites could have had a great impact on arctic archae- 
ology, but like the Igloolik sequence, it remains only 
partly published (Harp 1997). During the time when 
Harp worked in the Belchers, Jose Benmouyal analyz- 

1 5.6/ The crew at MacColl Island, one of the Button Islands, in 1967. 


1 9 5 

ed Desgloffe's collections for his master's thesis and 
established that the "Manitounik" culture did not exist, 
but was simply a mixture of tools from several differ- 
ent components (Benmouyal 1978). 

Between 1 970 and 1 980, the Quebec government 
greatly increased its involvement and power in Arctic 
Quebec and initiated cooperation with the Inuit. With 
these developments, the conditions of archaeological 
research in Arctic Quebec improved. In 1970, 1973, 
and 1974, I conducted research on northwestern 
Ungava Bay, Akpatok Island, and Diana Bay. I was 
mainly interested in studying Paleoeskimo settlement 
patterns and incorporating a paleoethnographic ap- 
proach to Dorset houses and habitat. In France, I had 
been trained by Andre Leroi-Gourhan in this approach, 
which had not yet been employed in the American 
Arctic; I had also seen how much information had re- 
sulted from the careful excavations conducted by Lee. 
According to publications available in 1970, no 
longhouses, aside from the six known between Payne 
River and Diana Island, had been found anywhere in 
the Arctic except at established Norse sites. If the 
unique, dramatic, and elaborate structures discovered 
at Ungava were indeed Dorset houses, they would 
have to be interpreted, not from an Iron-Age Norse 
base, but from the technological and socioeconomic 
contexts of a seminomadic Arctic hunting society. A 
comparison between different types of habitations and 
different sites was necessary. In my 1 969 monograph, 
I assumed that more longhouses might be found in 
the Canadian Arctic and Greenland if archaeologists 
were prepared to look for them along with the usual 
small dwellings. Thirty years later, in 2000, more than 
forty such structures have been found between east- 
ern Victoria Island and northeastern Greenland. In that 
volume, I also suggested that multidisciplinary studies 
were needed to investigate cultural responses to 
paleoenvironmental fluctuation (Plumet 1969:56). 

In Quebec in the early seventies, a major difficulty 
was assembling an archaeological team. Except for a 
small group of specialized scholars, Arctic Quebec was 

outside the field-of-consciousness of most Quebecois. 
In 1 970, I retained the services of a young French navi- 
gator, and, at the last moment, found a design stu- 
dent in my university. Both were attracted to the 
project by arctic adventure, but none was an archae- 
ologist. They turned out to be excellent assistants and 
enjoyed their two-and-a-half months of difficult field- 
work, mainly at the Qilalugarsiuvik longhouse. In 1 973, 
at Diana Island, I engaged a multidisciplinary team that 
included: palynologist Pierre Richard; a geomorpholo- 
gist who abandoned the project when he returned 
south; one technical assistant from Quebec; and Jean- 
Paul Salaun, a French student whose master's thesis 
dealt withThule house structures (Salaun 1 972). In 1 974, 
after our Akpatok survey, Salaun and three assistants 
from Quebec went to Diana Island during August but, 
because of stormy weather, were unable to work more 
than five full days. After they returned to Montreal, we 
reconsidered our logistics strategy, along with the high 
cost of individual expeditions (around $1 5,000), in light 
of the area's little-known but apparently rich prehis- 
tory. In order to combine a multi-disciplinary program 
with a broader regional perspective and a safer logis- 
tics environment, we decided to apply for a five-year 
project to a new program of the Canadian Humanities 
Council. The result was the Tuvaaluk (the Inuit name for 
Diana Bay) project, which was endowed with nearly 
one million dollars. It was designed to enable aca- 
demic scholars in anthropology and the environmen- 
tal sciences to cooperate according to the specific 
needs of their discipline, but with archaeological re- 
search as the primary goal. Our team of eight experi- 
enced specialists, who were eager to work together, 
attracted students to arctic research and promoted 
the development of archaeology at the University of 
Quebec at Montreal (Plumet 1 978). Of the eight schol- 
ars, seven of whom were relatively recent immigrants 
from Europe, four were at the University of Quebec, 
three in Montreal, and one at Laval University in Que- 
bec. I remember that because of the strongly na- 
tionalistic feelings in Quebec at the time and the 

1 96 


new Canadian nationalism, 
we wondered if so many 
Neo-Canadians might be a 
handicap for acceptance of 
the project; but when the 
question was put to the fed- 
eral officer in charge of the 
grant program, he answered 
that it would only be a de- 
parture from the many Am- 
erican teams working in 

At the same time that 
Tuvaaluk started, in 1975-1976, the Quebec govern- 
ment's James Bay project began a large archaeologi- 
cal contract program in the forest region. This project 
created a strong demand for archaeologists at a time 
when Quebec had only undergraduate students avail- 
able. For this reason the James Bay and Tuvaaluk pro- 
jects contributed, in different ways, to training many 
of the archaeologists now working in Quebec (fig. 1 5.7). 
The complete absence of graduate and postgraduate 
archaeology students made the Tuvaaluk program less 
efficient than it could have been. Long, hard strikes at 
the University slowed the first two years of the project 
and led to important changes in the archaeological 
team. Ian Badgley, a graduate student from the Univer- 
sity of Toronto, assisted me during the last three years 
of Tuvaaluk fieldwork, and his skill in stratigraphy was 
much appreciated. 

Even though the main part of excavation activity 
was concentrated in northwestern Ungava Bay and 
Diana Island, the Tuvaaluk project covered the broader 
region extending from Labrador to the south shore of 
Hudson Strait and included inland surveys to Payne, 
Klotz, and Robert Lakes. It also permitted a stimulat- 
ing collaboration with the Smithsonian research pro- 
gram in northern Labrador, which was conducted by 
William Fitzhugh. The sharing of data between these 
two projects lead to several publications (Archam- 
bault 1 981 ; Boutray 1 981 ; Plumet 1 981 b; Plumet and 

15.7/ Tuvaaluk team in 1978, outside the large wood cabin built in 1976 to 
shelter scholars and students 

Gangloff 1 990) and resulted in research and salvage 
efforts at the Nunaingok site on McLelan Strait, in which 
logistical support was provided by Tuvaaluk and fund- 
ing by the Quebec Ministry of Cultural Affairs. Because 
of the lack of trained archaeologists from Quebec, 
Badgley suggested that Henry Stewart, an Ph.D. stu- 
dent from the University of Toronto, be put in charge 
of the fieldwork under Tuvaaluk direction, assisted by 
three undergraduate French Canadian students. 4 

At the end of the Quebec Period in the early 1 980s, 
the rapid development of contract archaeology in 
Quebec drew most of the archaeology students. More 
than twelve newly established private companies pro- 
vided short-term but higher income jobs to the few 
graduate students and even to undergraduates than 
academic institutions could offer. Working as a research 
assistant in an academic program was no longer at- 
tractive, except to the few who were deeply scientifi- 
cally minded and were ready to accept long-term train- 
ing and low incomes. This situation, peculiar to archae- 
ology, posed a major problem for the exploitation of 
the rich trove of Tuvaaluk archaeological data. 

The results of the Tuvaaluk Project have been pub- 
lished in eight monographs, forty papers, and four 
master's theses (Bibeau 1 984; Derosiers 1 982; Gauvin 
1 990; Labreche 1 984; Laboratoire d'archeologie 1 993). 
By 1980, more than 350 sites had been registered in 
Quebec territory for the Inuit area whereas only forty 


1 97 

had been known in 1 960 and 1 40 in 1 970. Many more 
were located on the islands belonging to the North- 
west Territories. A dozen longhouses had been dis- 
covered between Payne River and Cape Frontenac, 
near Wakeham Bay, and their Dorset origin had been 
clearly established (Plumet 1985a). At Diana Bay, an 
Early Paleoeskimo (Pre-Dorset) occupation had been 
identified, as well as a series of Late Paleoeskimo 
(Dorset) components. The Late Paleoeskimo phase 
lasted for two millennia on Diana Island, into the six- 
teenth century; during the last few hundred years of 
this period, Thule Inuit lived in the same area. The only 
indication of contact between Thule and Dorset soci- 
eties was a strange semisubterranean house with a 
clearly defined Dorset mid-passage and a typical Thule 
cold trap, kitchen, and building technique (Plumet 
1979c, 1985b, 1986b, 1989b, 1994). Although Badg- 
ley's (1 980) stratigraphic excavations in 1 978 and 1 979 
on Diana Island were thought to illustrate an excep- 
tional fourteen-layer Dorset site, Helene Gauvin, in a 
clever master's thesis, demonstrated in 1 990 that only 
three or four archaeological episodes could be distin- 
guished and that most of the stratigraphic layers re- 
sulted from local taphonomic events. Her subtle 
paleoethnographic and taphonomic analyses resulted 
in several interesting hypotheses about the events that 
occurred at the site (Gauvin 1 990). Her work showed 
that if the excavations here had been oriented toward 
paleoethnography rather than stratigraphy, much more 
might have been learned about this Dorset settlement. 

While limited space prevents a full summary of the 
results of the Tuvaaluk Project, let me only add that 
the research established that the relationship be- 
tween Ungava and Labrador existed as early as Pre- 
Dorset, at least east of Cape New France and inland 
as far as Payne Lake (Plumet 1 986b, 1 994). Tuvaaluk 
also pioneered computer-assisted archaeology, begin- 
ning in 1 975 with a bibliographic database on a DEC- 
10 minicomputer and ending in 1981 with several 
different databases and a graphic system on a PC 
microcomputer. The computer work was conducted 

by three successive assistants: Andre Gosselin, Jean- 
Francois Moreau, and Helene Gauvin (Gauvin 1990; 
Gosselin and SalaLin 1975, 1978a, 1978b, 1979; 
Plumet 1979b, 1981a). 

The end of Tuvaaluk fieldwork marked the begin- 
ning of the final period in Quebec Arctic archaeologi- 
cal research. No further archaeological work was con- 
ducted by a French Canadian university after 1 980, 
although the effects of the Tuvaaluk Project were felt 
in other disciplines. For several years, geomorpholo- 
gist Pierre Gangloff at the University of Montreal and 
geologist Normand Goulet at the University of Que- 
bec at Montreal continued their studies around Ungava 
Bay, in the Tomgat Mountains, and in Labrador. De- 
spite all the research that had been undertaken, how- 
ever, the fact that the results were published in French 
prevented their diffusion into the Anglo-American 
academic "ghetto." 5 

Inuit Period 

In addition to providing Inuktitut summaries in the Paleo- 
Quebec publications on arctic subjects, I tried from 1 976 
on to interest Inuit in archaeological research, but slide 
projections in the villages and visits to the excava- 
tions seemed to be of little interest to them. After 
1 978, the situation changed for political reasons. I will 
leave to historians the task of evaluating the impact of 
the old rivalry between the federal and provincial gov- 
ernments, and the more recent controversies between 
English Canadian and French Canadian scholars over 
the Quebec Arctic, at a time when the Parti Quebecois 
had just been elected. I had amusing echoes of some 
of these conflicts, but they did not really interest me at 
that time. Recent events at Oka and Great Whale illus- 
trate how politicians have exploited native issues and 
how natives may cleverly take part in this as part of 
the endless game of politics. 

In 1978, the "101 Bill" was used to launch move- 
ments against the official "frenchification" of Quebec 
and the development of its Arctic by Quebecois. Both 
the Inuit and the Quebec and Canadian governments 

1 98 


probably felt that it was easier to negotiate the sym- 
bolic value of the archaeological heritage than the 
economic problems of Nunaviks' or New Quebec's rich 
mineral resources. Thus, as it had during Quebec's na- 
tionalist movements in the early seventies, archaeol- 
ogy became a symbol of Inuit "ethnicity" (Plumet 1 979a). 
When the Tuvaaluk team landed at Quaqtaq in June 
1 978, it was greeted— with the Inuit's sharp sense of 
humor— by posters that claimed that only English and 
Inuktitut could be spoken in Inuit land! After that, we 
had to negotiate each field project with the Inuit mu- 
nicipality, but this was not a real problem. 

In the early eighties, senior Tuvaaluk Project schol- 
ars took time to organize their field data and to present 
it in various theses and publications. For the archaeo- 
logical fieldwork, this pause was welcomed. It permit- 
ted the Inuit and the Quebec government to establish 
a new deal. Several assistants left for contract archae- 
ology or to continue graduate work at other universi- 
ties, since the University of Quebec in Montreal did not 
offer a graduate program in archaeology. Badgley was 
hired by Avataq to take charge of archaeology in Arc- 
tic Quebec in compliance with regulations issued by 
the New Quebec section of the Ministry of Cultural 
Affairs archaeological service. 

The sudden interest in archaeology expressed by 
the Inuit was a welcome development. We heard that 
an archaeology field school would be offered, as well 
as new research programs following Inuit priorities. This 
development was similar to what had happened in 
southern Quebec in the seventies. It could have pro- 
vided an excellent opportunity to develop new col- 
laborative efforts between academic scholars and stu- 
dents and the Inuit interested in their arctic heritage. 
The Tuvaaluk Project offered an excellent training pro- 
gram, but although I made suggestions to this effect 
to the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and to Avataq, quite 
different choices were made. 

From 1 980 to the end of the 1 990s, so little infor- 
mation has been published that it is difficult to follow 
the development of archaeology in Arctic Quebec. 

During this time, the New Quebec section of the Minis- 
try of Cultural Affairs and Avataq began a new archaeo- 
logical project without any consultation with the uni- 
versity. The unpublished Tuvaaluk data, however, seems 
to have played a role in the project's establishment, 
and I was happy to hear from Badgley that one of the 
most important Paleoeskimo sites, located near 
Quaqtaq, had been the subject of an Avataq archaeo- 
logical field school (it was a salvage project). Accord- 
ing to Badgley, the site contains a large Groswater 
component that may be one of the richest for this 
cultural period in the Eastern Arctic. The site has com- 
pletely disappeared with the extension of the Quaqtaq 
landing strip. Another discovery that might influence 
the interpretation of the Tuvaaluk data seems to have 
been made by Dave Okpik, of Quaqtaq, who located, 
near the southeastern bottom of Diana Bay several 
kilometers from the shore, the source of what was 
called Diana quartzite during the Tuvaaluk project. This 
raw material, which initially was mistaken for Ramah 
quartzite (i.e., Ramah chert), was exploited as early as 
the beginning of the Paleoeskimo period (Boutray 1 981 ; 
Plumet 1 981 b, 1 986b). According to Badgley (personal 
communication), the quarry is associated with an im- 
portant Dorset settlement and with caribou hunting. 
In 1 987 and 1 988 Henry Stewart, then a teacher in a 
Japanese university, was put in charge of a new exca- 
vation project at the Nunaingok site on McLelan Strait. 
This important project seems to have been funded by 
the Ministry of Cultural Affairs through Avataq, but very 
little information of any kind about this project has 
been made available. 

Despite the Avataq surveys, it is contract archae- 
ology that has dominated northern Quebec archaeol- 
ogy during the Inuit period. From 1 984 tol 992, these 
projects drained at least $1 .6 million from the Ministry 
of Transport and the Ministry of Cultural Affairs. Based 
on what Badgley let me see of the collections, and 
from unpublished preliminary reports deposited at the 
Ministry of Cultural Affairs, very promising discoveries 
have been made in various locales of Arctic Quebec. In 


1 99 

1989 alone, 432 sites were registered in the Que- 
bec database. 6 

We may wonder if the absence of scientific publi- 
cation during this period is due to the fact that few 
academically trained archaeologists are involved in 
research in Arctic Quebec. The Avataq team and pri- 
vate firms have few graduate students and no Ph.D. 
archaeologists on their staffs, although some workers 
have long and serious experience. Two exceptions are 
worth mentioning. Yves Labreche, an early assistant in 
Tuvaaluk and by this time a Ph.D. student at the Uni- 
versity of Montreal, received a small grant from the 
Quebec Ministry of Cultural Affairs and the Secretary 
for Autochthonous Affairs, through the University of 
Quebec in Montreal, to carry on limited ethnoar- 
chaeological research with the Inuit around Kangiq- 
sujuaq from 1985 to 1989 (Labreche 1984, 1986b, 
1988, 1991). In addition, Murielle Nagy of the Univer- 
sity of Alberta studied the Pre-Dorset-Dorset transition 
in collaboration with the Inuit of Ivujivik (Nagy 1 992a, 
1 992b, 2000a, 2000b). Both of them made some of 
their results available and published papers. Fortu- 
nately, their work has helped keep individual aca- 
demic research alive in the Arctic Quebec. 

Other than these exceptions, as far as I know in 
1993, no post-graduate work has been done by 
Quebec students in Arctic Quebec since the begin- 
ning of the Inuit period. Specialized teaching in arc- 
tic prehistory is totally absent in French Canadian 
universities, although it has existed since 1988 at 
McCill University, where Ph.D. theses dealing with 
Thule subsistence were defended in 1 992 and 1 999, 
and three master's theses on the Canadian Arctic 
are under preparation. In more than thirty years since 
1 961 , when the University of Montreal's Department 
of Anthropology was created, only two Ph.D. the- 
ses have dealt with the archaeology of northeast- 
ern North America. The last one was Marie-France 
Archambault's study of the Archaic of the mid-North 
Coast of St. Lawrence River (1993). None have fo- 
cused on the Arctic. 

Certainly, the choices made by Avataq and the 
New Quebec section of the Ministry of Cultural Af- 
fairs have not encouraged academic scholarship in 
Arctic Quebec. By contrast, the approach taken by 
the North Coast of the St. Lawrence section of this 
ministry has been quite different. In the eastern por- 
tions of the North Coast, Paleoeskimo and Neoes- 
kimo research has recently been conducted by Que- 
becois. This research has not only produced inter- 
esting scientific results but it has also involved the 
community's collaboration in archaeological heri- 
tage. 7 Another perspective, however, is possible. In 
Arctic Quebec, the cultural and archaeological heri- 
tage is directly linked to the Inuit population, for 
which Avataq took responsibility, at first in compli- 
ance with the sovereignist government of Quebec. This 
heritage is largely alien to French Quebec culture, but 
its rapid, successful, and peaceful takeover by the Inuit, 
as well as the increasing trend toward self-rule by 
Inuit throughout the entire North American Arctic, is in 
contrast, at least in a symbolic sense, with the slow, 
conflict-ridden, and halting progress of Quebec soci- 
ety toward its own autonomy and cultural affirma- 
tion. 8 In southern Quebec, as in southern Canada, the 
relationship with the Amerindians and their heritage is 
different. Amerindian communities had a history that 
was much more deeply linked with that of Quebec. In 
April 1 993, Le Devoir reported that during the last 
five years the number of Quebecois— as well as Cana- 
dians—who asserted that they had an Amerindian 
ancestor increased by 70 percent (a total of 1 37, 
61 5 individuals in Quebec and more than one million 
in Canada). Today, Quebec archaeology is strongly ori- 
ented toward Amerindian archaeology, especially the 
contact and historic periods. Arctic archaeology has 
perhaps been more attractive for New Quebeckers like 
myself who may easily separate their research goals 
from issues of individual or cultural identity. 9 Mean- 
while, the French language is becoming more com- 
monly used among the Quebec Inuit, whose official 
publications are trilingual. 



1993 to 2002 

Thanks to a special agreement with my university, 
which allowed me to use the last three years before 
an early retirement to work almost exclusively on the 
Tuvaaluk results, I have been able to make more data 
available. In a provisional synthesis of the Diana Bay 
prehistory, which was published in a volume honoring 
William Taylor (Plumet 1 994), I have critiqued Park's ar- 
gument for the noncontemporaneity of Dorset and 
Thule cultures. Since Park seems to have dismissed my 
claims in later papers (Park 1 993, 2000), this interest- 
ing problem remains unsettled. Because of the expense 
and time involved in traditional paper publication, es- 
pecially without funding, I have also placed on two 
websites all of the project results available in 2000: 
reports of various Tuvaaluk surveys; and detailed field- 
work reports at the Cordeau ( JfEI-1 ) and Tuvaaluk (JfEl- 
4) sites, with maps, plans, photographs, and diagrams. 
I have emphasized the stratigraphy and structural or- 
ganization of the Tuvaaluk site House A, "a Dorset- 
Thule house," and the occupational sequence in this 
complex settlement and have presented dif- 
ferent interpretations of the types of Dorset- 
Thule relationships that might be represented 
at this strange house (fig. 1 5.8). The Tuvaa-luk 
website has been updated as of May 2002. 10 
A second website, Nunavik, went live in May 
2002. In addition, I have concluded my work 
with Serge Lebel on the technological study 
of the Dorset tip-fluted points, using the same 
approach that we employed for the Dorset 
metabasalt core industry (Lebel and Plumet 
1 991 ; Plumet and Lebel 1 991 , 1 997). 

In Nunavik, the Avataq surveys continued 
through the 1 990s, and some of the archaeo- 
logical work from the previous twenty-five 
years was finally published. This was precipi- 
tated by the awareness of my Danish col- 
leagues that the Dorset petroglyphs discov- 
ered at Qajartalik near Kangirsujuaq (Wake- 
ham Bay) by Saladin d'Anglure in 1 961 were 

endangered. Tourists from cruise ships landed on the 
unprotected site without authorization. Hans Kapel of- 
fered to organize a joint salvage expedition with Que- 
bec scholars and a multidisciplinary team of trained 
specialists in arctic archaeology and rock art studies, 
along with Creenlandic archaeology students and 
some Nunavik Inuit. The project would have also es- 
tablished a museum or interpretation center in Kangirsu- 
juaq. In 1 994, I transmitted this fascinating proposal 
to Daniel Gendron, the undergraduate student in charge 
of archaeology at Avataq. Without declining the pro- 
posal, Avataq organized in 1 996 its own small-scale 
expedition to Qajartalik, led by Daniel Arsenault, a 
young rock art specialist from Quebec who was trained 
in England. At last, new research and salvage work has 
begun at this unique Dorset site, revealing new figures 
previously hidden under the soil (Arsenault et al.l 998; 
Plumet 1 997). Two new master's theses have been 
accepted at the University of Montreal on the analysis 
of small Paleoeskimo sites and collections from Hudson 
Bay (Bernier 1997; Pinard 2000). Recently, Gendron 

/ 5.8/ The "Dorset-Thule House" at Tuvaaluk which contained Dorset- 
style features such as an axial hearth and Thule-style features such 
as a cold-trap and fireplace. 


20 1 

published a comprehensive paper on pre-Dorset boul- 
der field structures found in Nunavik since 1969 
(Gendron 2001 ). Of a more fundamental nature is the 
research initiated by Murielle Nagy while a graduate 
student at the University of Alberta, Edmonton. Using 
data from her own excavations of sites in the Ivujivik 
area, she reevaluated the Pre-Dorset-Dorset transition 
that was first established by Taylor in 1968 (Nagy 
1 994a, 2000a , 2000b). Finally, at the turn of this cen- 
tury, Avataq archaeologists published the first over- 
views of Early Paleoeskimo occupation in Nunavik, and 
of the Dorset occupation on the south shore of Hudson 
Strait, using the entire set of data collected for this 
period since 1 969 (Gendron and Pinard 2000, Pinard 
2001). According to this overview, the two distinct 
Paleoeskimo populations— one from Labrador and the 
other from Foxe Basin— whose existence I had hypoth- 
esized from the Tuvaaluk data at the end of the 1 970s 
seems more significant than ever. 


The history of archaeology in Arctic Quebec needs to 
be considered in its widest sociological and political 
context. These events offer interesting perspectives 
on the troublesome and partly unconscious relation- 
ships between English and French Canadians, between 
Old and New Quebeckers, and between Inuit and other 
Canadians. But it should not be forgotten that Nunavik 
is a rich and underexploited archaeological area where 
some of the most important Neo-eskimo and 
Paleoeskimo period sites are found at large interior 
lakes (Payne, Klotz, and Robert's) at some distance from 
the coast. The distribution and size of Paleoeskimo 
sites from the earliest phases underscores the inad- 
equacy of the old single "core area" concept. New 
excavations of Dorset longhouses (of which more than 
fifteen have now been located around the western 
peninsula) could shed new light on Dorset settlement 
patterns, especially if they were compared with the 
more than forty longhouses discovered during the last 
twenty years in the Canadian Arctic archipelago, 

Ellesmere, and even northwestern Greenland. Among 
the many questions raised in Quebec Arctic archaeol- 
ogy, one of the most interesting is the nature of the 
relationship between very Late Dorset communities 
and Early Thule ones. Tuvaaluk House A, which is half- 
Dorset and half-Thule, contradicts Park's speculations 
on this question. I hope the next generation of archae- 
ologists, Inuit as well as Euroamerican— and why not 
European and Asian —will rid themselves of nationalis- 
tic complexes and work together toward the clarifica- 
tion of this fascinating part of world prehistory. 


I would like to thank all the persons who gave me 
information. I am especially grateful to William Fitzhugh, 
Louis-Edmond Hamelin, Roger Marois, Jean-Francois 
Moreau, Jerome Rousseau, Gilles Tasse, and William 
Taylor, who made valuable comments or corrections 
on earlier drafts of this paper, for which, nevertheless, I 
am the only one to be held accountable. 


1 . It will be the task of historians to settle the 
truth from among the disparate and often con- 
fusing explanations of these conflicts. A recently 
published essay (Laporte 1995) is apparently an 
unbiased first step toward this goal, and it reads 
like a thriller. According to Laporte and other 
sources I used while preparing this paper, which 
included former members of the National Museum 
and Jacques Rousseau's sonjerome Rousseau, now 
an anthropologist at McGill University, the follow- 
ing picture can be tentatively drawn. Contrary to 
sometimes too readily accepted opinions in Que- 
bec, these conflicts cannot be reduced to antago- 
nisms between English and French Canadians, since 
the main clashes were with Marius Barbeau and 
Marcel Rioux, whose dogmatic Marxist tenden- 
cies, according to some informants, did not please 
Jacques Rousseau. (However, I must note that 
Jerome Rousseau disagrees on this last point.) The 
explosive and highly publicized aspects of these 
conflicts may partly have resulted from Rousseau's 
stringent, scientific, but very direct and free-spir- 
ited temper that contrasted culturally with the 
more mild-mannered English style. In any case, 



various circumstances and facts seem to have 
converged to create a dramatic outcome. 
Rousseau's appointment to the directorship of the 
National Museum by Prime Minister Louis Saint- 
Laurent had not followed the customary proce- 
dures of the day. In particular, Rousseau had ex- 
plicitly refused to become a member either of the 
Society of Freemasons or of the Ordre de Jacques 
Cornier, a comparable French Canadian secret so- 
ciety, as his colleagues of similar standing had 
customarily done. Rousseau then apparently tried 
to reorganize, and also to moralize, some func- 
tional aspects of the museum, which had been 
plagued by sexual harassment of secretaries. As 
Laporte clearly explains, however, the Long-Sault 
affair became the central issue. Marius Barbeau, 
who had been convinced of Lee's discovery from 
the start, was obliged to change sides under pres- 
sure from the Freemasons, of which he was a 
member. He advised his newly appointed friend 
Rousseau to get rid of Lee who, meanwhile, had 
aggravated his own professional standing by 
claiming a too-ancient age for the Sheguiandah 
site on Manitoulin Island. In those days, more than 
today, a claim of 30,000 years B.P. was not scien- 
tifically correct. But Rousseau, who was neither 
politically nor ideologically involved, settled the 
Long-Sault case from a purely scientific point of 
view. After a careful examination of the data and 
of the Hawkesbury site, he came to Lee's defense. 
To render things still more complicated, officials 
from Ottawa, as well as French Canadians under 
the leadership of the famous clerical nationalist 
historian Lionel Groulx, fought fiercely against Lee's 
claim for the site, which happened to be on the 
Ontario side of the Ottawa River. French Canadi- 
ans wanted to celebrate at Carillon, on the Que- 
bec side, the battle where their hero Dollard des 
Ormeaux was killed together with seventeen 
young men. At last, John Diefenbaker, who is not 
known for his amity toward French Canadians, re- 
placed Saint-Laurent as Prime Minister, and a bill 
was specially prepared and passed to revoke the 
appointment held by the troublesome Jacques 
Rousseau, who had to vacate his position at the 
National Museum. 

2. Even French Canadian clerks and storekeep- 
ers objected to the use of French. In some rare 
circumstances, in the Montreal far west, I have 
been snubbed by a contemptuous, "Could you 
speak White," a word that gave rise to the title of 

a famous and subversive book of the sixties: 
Negres blancs d'Amerique (White Niggers of 
America) by Pierre Vallieres (1968), one of the 
Independentist leaders. At the end of the seven- 
ties, in an Ottawa hospital, a French European ar- 
chaeologist was surprisingly met with a "Could 
you speak Christian!" from a female doctor. 

3. Unfortunately, very shortly after its founda- 
tion, the A.R.A.Q. disappeared. It had been initiated 
by members of the S.A.P.Q. (Societe d'archeologie 
prehistorique du Quebec) apparently to gather to- 
gether the few archaeologists of Quebec Province. 
As a matter of fact, it was mainly oriented toward 
settling a score with a then too-well-known ama- 
teur archaeologist and a European teacher at the 
Department of Anthropology of Montreal University, 
who later found an interesting position in an Ameri- 
can university. These manipulations hurt deeply the 
archaeological circle of Quebec, which has been left 
divided since then. More than fifteen years later, 
when a new association was founded with the ap- 
pearance of contract archaeology, the A.A.Q. (As- 
sociation des Archeologues du Quebec), in spite of 
its welcomed realizations, never succeeded in at- 
tracting all the archaeologists with the academic 
ones, in particular, being on their guard. 

4. H. Stewart, who returned to Japan in 1979, 
never completed the final report on this project. 
The results of the work accomplished at Nunaingok 
in 1978 are taken from Stewart's preliminary re- 
port in Plumet and Gangloff (1 990). 

5. The reader certainly understands that the 
term "ghetto" is used in a humorous, ironic sense 
and in paradoxical contrast to the apparent situ- 
ation of the French-speaking Quebec Province in- 
side mainly English-speaking North America. It re- 
flects the feeling of many non-American scholars 
confronting the relative imperviousness of Anglo- 
American science to non-English scientific litera- 
ture, as well as the tendency of many Anglo-Ameri- 
can scientists to mistrust or ignore foreign publi- 
cations. It is true that English tends to be the in- 
ternational language in several fields, at least in 
Europe and in the Commonwealth countries. It is 
less true in Latin America. As for Russia, China, 
and Japan, this acculturation is not as evident. 
There, English is not yet the lingua franca, and the 
most important scientific publications are issued 
in the national language. Many Japanese archae- 
ologists seem to be more interested in learning 
Chinese or Russian than English. I believe that for 



a scientist, it is as important to publish the main 
results of one's research in one's own cultural lan- 
guage as to be able to understand several for- 
eign scientific languages. 

6. Some information concerning contract archae- 
ology in Arctic Quebec is available in the series archeologiques au Quebec published 
annually by the Association des Archeologues du 
Quebec since 1986 (for the years 1983-84). 

7. An interpretive center has been built at 
Grandes-Bergeronnes, close to two of the sites 
excavated. See also Martijn(l 974), Pintal (1991), 
and Plumet et al. (1 992) for the Blanc Sablon area; 
Plumet et al. (1 993) for Grandes-Bergeronnes; and 
Archambault (1994) for the middle North Coast 
of the St. Lawrence River. 

8. In contrast with the 1970s and with the 
slightly increasing use of French by the Inuit dur- 
ing the last period, Quebec archaeologists, as far 
as the prehistory of Quebec is concerned, tend to 

publish and communicate more and more in En- 
glish. In 1993, the 26th Annual Meeting of the 
Canadian Archaeological Association was held in 
Montreal for the first time. It was an exceptional 
opportunity to valorize the "archeologie quebec- 
oise." More than 40 percent of the papers given 
by French Canadian prehistorians were in English 
(mostly presented by university teachers and stu- 
dents while those in French were given by inde- 
pendent or public archaeologists) and papers deal- 
ing with historic and contact archaeology gener- 
ally were in French. This trend was still evident in 

9. I expressed my understanding of this prob- 
lem concerning identity just before the Quebec 
referendum in Le Devoir (Montreal), May 1 6, 1 980, 
p. 1 (Plumet 1 980). A more extensive study may 
be found in Plumet 1 986b. 

1 0. See h ttp:// and . 



"The J~ji'stora o f /\ rc \i a e o I ogi c a I Research in 
Nunavi'lc (Nouveau-Quebec): 


In the spring of 1993, the Elders Conference on the 
History of Archaeology in the Eastern Arctic was held 
at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, to honor Dr. 
Elmer Harp, Jr., on the occasion of his eightieth birth- 
day and to extend official recognition to other pioneer 
prehistorians in this field, namely Frederica de Laguna, 
Eigil Knuth, Father Mary-Rousseliere, and Graham 
Rowley. Among the numerous speakers at this festive 
occasion were Patrick Plumet, former director of the 
Laboratoire d'archeologie at the University of Quebec 
in Montreal, who delivered a paper entitled "History of 
the Archaeological Research in Arctic Quebec" (Plumet, 
this volume). His remarks dealt in part with what he 
termed "the psychological, sociological and political 
context" of archaeological work in northern Quebec. 
Sitting in the audience, I was bemused by the tenor of 
some of his assertions about events and developments 
in which I myself, since 1 958, had been an active par- 
ticipant or a close observer (Martijn 1 998). Episodes of 
this nature lead one to reflect once again on whether 
there is really such a thing as "history." Perhaps there 
are only "histories"?This paper offers a second opin- 
ion on the history of northern Quebec archaeology, 
while fully recognizing that it, in turn, reflects my 
own biases. 

It is not my intention here to provide the reader 
with a comprehensive treatise on the development of 
archaeological research in Nunavik (Arctic Quebec), or 
Quebec in general for that matter. A balanced over- 
view would require a team effort so as to reduce 

the element of subjectivity to a minimum. Never- 
theless, those interested in this topic may consult a 
number of sources that, despite their shortcomings 
and a need for in-depth revision, provide a variety 
of perspectives (e.g., Cinq-Mars and Martijn 1981; 
Gelinas 2000; Harp 1 984; Martijn 1 979, 1 998; Martijn 
and Cinq-Mars 1970; Plumet and Gangloff 1990:3-6; 
Taylor 1 964b). 1 That said, the best review and assess- 
ment of research problems relating to prehistoric Inuit 
archaeology in northern Quebec are still, in my opin- 
ion, to be found in an unpublished report by Badgley 

Four things in particular struck me about Plumet's 
paper (this volume): (1) the lack of attention accorded 
to the cultural and political aspirations of the Inuit com- 
munities in Nunavik; (2) the blinkered academic out- 
look on archaeological heritage; (3) the misinterpreta- 
tion of Quebec government policy in regard to native 
prehistory; and (4) the wide divergence in outlook be- 
tween him and his Quebecois colleagues on the mat- 
ters above. 

20 5 

Plumet, speaking "as a French European in the prov- 
ince of Quebec," provides a brief account of the lin- 
guistic altercations that marked Montreal during the 
1 960s. Such tensions, often arising from deplorable 
incidents, played a key role in fueling the nationalistic 
upheavals that characterized that period. To what 
extent they also had a direct impact on the develop- 
ment of local prehistoric research remains uncertain. 
To me, the roots lie much deeper and are more varie- 
gated than those offered by a simple cause-and-effect 
explanation of linguistic tensions. 

Archaeological studies in Quebec have progressed 
in complex ways over a period of two centuries, and 
have been subjected to various forces (Gelinas 2000; 
Martijn 1998; Picard 1979; Trigger 1981). During the 
course of the nineteenth century, sporadic avocational 
contributions were made by members of both the 
French- and English-speaking sectors of the popula- 
tion who, in most instances, rarely coordinated their 
efforts. On the Quebecois side, interest in archaeology 
was centered initially on historical remains associated 
with the French Regime, as part of a movement to 
provide "French Canadian" society with its own his- 
torical self-image, to conserve its cultural heritage, and 
to promote its nationalistic aspirations. With a few 
notable exceptions, native ethnohistory and prehistory 
remained marginal topics to these primary issues and 
were mostly ignored well into the twentieth century. 
In the quest to ensure the ethnic survival of Franco- 
phone Quebec, the emphasis was placed on "study- 
ing ourselves before studying others." 

Paradoxically, it took another wave of nationalistic 
fervor and self-affirmation, but from a different mold, 
the so-called Quiet Revolution of the 1 960s, to reverse 
this negligent attitude. A new climate of intellectual 
ferment, not only inward-looking but also outward- 
looking, marked by a breakaway from outdated re- 
strictive concepts, promoted more sustained and di- 
versified reflection on the phenomenon of native com- 
munities existing within the confines of a larger Euro- 
Quebecois society. Among other things, it helped to 

instill the realization that prehistoric sites formed part 
of the province's overall cultural heritage. Some circles 
expressed concern that the lack of legal protection 
allowed artifact collections to be removed with im- 
punity by outside institutions and researchers. In the 
absence of provincial government intervention and 
academic implication, informed amateurs, increas- 
ingly aware of archaeological discoveries being made 
elsewhere in Canada and the United States, set up 
regional societies to undertake local explorations. The 
eventual creation of anthropology departments at sev- 
eral universities and the hiring of professional archae- 
ologists not only ensured a more viable interest in the 
discipline but also had a secondary effect. Some uni- 
versity students, rather than following their professors 
to places such as the Mediterranean, the Near East, or 
Central America, began to insist on opportunities to 
participate in prehistoric projects within the bound- 
aries of Quebec itself, so as to provide them with a 
chance to make their own personal contributions to 
the paleohistory of the Northeast. 

Throughout the succeeding decades, Quebecois 
Amerindianists, including archaeological representa- 
tives, engaged in wide-ranging discussions about the 
cultural, social, economic, and political problems faced 
by native peoples within Quebec, who were caught 
between two competing bureaucracies, federal and 
provincial (Gelinas 2000). Specific attention was also 
directed to ethical and legal questions regarding the 
obligations of researchers toward native communities 
and the participation of native persons in anthropo- 
logical projects of all sorts. As I can testify myself, this 
was done with the kind of sensitivity and awareness 
that springs from a firsthand familiarity with, and a long- 
time reflection about, minority status. 

Plumet remained aloof from these proceedings with 
one exception. Apparently apprehensive about pos- 
sible restrictions on his archaeological activities, he 
argued against the ownership of archaeological re- 
mains by First Nations minorities (Plumet 1 979a, 1 984, 
1986a). In his opinion, such cultural resources should 



be classed as world heritage and presumably man- 
aged by nation-states. These views were only ex- 
pressed in academic publications that, for all practical 
purposes, are inaccessible to northern communities, 
leaving them unaware of such lobbying efforts. It does 
not appear that he has ever discussed this view with 
native representatives to obtain their reaction to this. 
Unlike other colleagues in northern Quebec, during the 
more than twenty years of his career as an arctic ar- 
chaeologist, Plumet never hired a single Inuk for his 
excavation crews, nor employed one in his laboratory. 
The ones who worked for him did so as boat owners 
for transportation purposes, as food providers, or as 
informants. He states that, "I tried from 1976 on to 
interest Inuit in archaeological research, but slide pro- 
jections in the villages and visits to the excavations 
seemed to be of little interest to them." Other archae- 
ologists possibly had more success with such mea- 
sures—one does what one can and not everyone is a 
born communicator— but in the long run it is clear that 
different and more sustained methods need to be 
employed. Plumet did make it a point to always in- 
clude a summary in Inuktitut for each number of his 
Paleo-Quebec publication series. From an academic 
point of view, such a gesture is certainly laudable, but 
from a practical point of view, at the community level, 
experience has shown this to be totally ineffective. 

Transposing the French-English linguistic imbroglio 
to the Far North, Plumet reformulates it in an archaeo- 
logical context. He explains: 

While it was evident that we had to work in 
French, the limited tradition of archaeological 
training in Quebec was in English. The 
European French language could not be 
imported tel quel to transmit the concept of 
North American archaeology because it 
would have been perceived in Quebec like a 
different form of imperialism. Mere translation 
was meaningless; the insertion of American 
words and concepts in French sentences 
would have resulted in a "creolization" of the 
archaeological literature. (Plumet, p. 1 94, this 

These are valid preoccupations from an academic point 

of view, but one wonders, for example, if Nunavik ar- 
chaeology, or arctic prehistory in general, might not 
benefit from a study of Inuktitut terms for artifact types 
and for Inuit categories and concepts relating to their 
utilization. One imagines, too, that Inuit students would 
welcome a lexicon in Inuktitut, French, and English that 
dealt with traditional cultural equipment, habitation 
features, and other relevant elements related to pre- 
historic remains, compiled with the assistance of com- 
munity elders. This is an approach that the Avataq 
Cultural Institute has applied in northern Quebec field 
situations for a number of years now. 

Plumet (this volume) divides his history of archaeo- 
logical research within Nunavik into three periods: the 
International Pioneering Period, lasting until the end of 
the 1960s; the Quebec Period during the 1970s; and 
the Inuit Period from the 1 980s onward. In his discus- 
sion devoted to what is termed the Inuit Period, Plumet 
fails to make any reference to a remarkable person- 
age, a young Inuk from the village of Inukjuak named 
Daniel Weetaluktuk, who possessed a veritable pas- 
sion for archaeological research (fig. 16.1). I first met 
Weetaluktuk in 1977 when Bob McGhee introduced 
me to him at what was then the National Museum 
of Man in Ottawa. Over the course of several years 
(1 977-1 982), Weetaluktuk and I maintained regular 
contact: engaging in correspondence, trading in- 
formation, sitting on committees, attending confer- 
ences, and exchanging visits up north and down 
south (Martijn n.d.). Across the international border, 
hospitality was also extended to Weetaluktuk by 
professionals such as Elmer Harp, Jr., and Allen P. 
McCartney who took a personal interest in him. In- 
deed, his initial field training was with McCartney 
on Somerset Island in 1976, followed by a training 
session at the University of Arkansas in early 1977 
and a subsequent summer expedition to Devon Is- 
land with McGhee. During the summer of 1 979, in a 
switch from the usual state of affairs, Weetaluktuk 
actually hired a southern graduate student, Jean-Luc 
Pilon, to serve as his field assistant. 



Bill Kemp (1 982) and Allen McCartney (1 984) have 
pointed out that Daniel Weetaluktuk was an authentic 
phenomenon in arctic field archaeology. As his inter- 
ests expanded, he found a direction for himself and 
became completely engrossed in it. Highly motivated 
and an indefatigable worker, keenly observant, inven- 
tive and eager to try out new surveying techniques 
adapted to arctic conditions, rapid in absorbing scien- 
tific information from academic acquaintances and in- 
tegrating it with traditional knowledge from Inuit el- 
ders to gain new archaeological insights, he acquired 
increasing competence in administrative matters and 
in the planning and execution of survey and salvage 
excavation projects. A list of Weetaluktuk's manuscript 
reports is appended to the end of this chapter. In the 
fall of 1 979, Weetaluktuk's field notes relating to his 
survey of the Sleeper and Hopewell Islands in Eastern 
Hudson Bay, and his salvage excavation project in 
Inukjuak, were lost when his baggage was stolen at 
the Great Whale River airport. It was a devastating blow 
from which he took a long time to recover. Relying on 
his memory, he wrote up what he could recall (Weeta- 
luktuk 1979c:l; 1980c:l; cited below p. 212). 

He was also deeply concerned about the role of 
native communities in arctic archaeological research, 
proposing measures for the formation of Inuit person- 
nel and for their increased participation in every phase 
of this discipline, including decision making. In this con- 
nection, his services as a resource person were pro- 
gressively extended to other communities. Weetaluk- 
tuk's all too brief career ended on August 4, 1 982: he 
died while piloting an ultralight airplane, which crashed 
into the Nastapoka River when the motor stalled. 

Shortly before his death, Daniel Weetaluktuk stated 
to a journalist that "you need commitment and pa- 
tience" in carrying out archaeological work (Anonymous 
1982). He was himself the very embodiment of this 
declaration. At a later date, the school in his home 
village of Inukjuak was named after him, and the 
Ministere des Affaires culturelles du Quebec participated 
in the creation of a "Weetaluktuk Student Prize," which 

is handed out annually by the Canadian Archaeologi- 
cal Association. In 1 993, the Ministry also contributed 
to the construction of the Daniel Weetaluktuk Museum 
in Inukjuak, which is directed by a board of seven el- 
ders (Ohaituk 1994:8). The years from 1977 to 1982 
are engraved in my mind and, at least to me, will al- 
ways constitute the Weetaluktuk Period of archaeo- 
logical history in Nunavik. 

Apparently overlooking Weetaluktuk's contribu- 
tions, Plumet speaks of a "sudden interest in archaeol- 
ogy expressed by the Inuit" emerging in the early 1 980s. 
According to Plumet, this Inuit Period began its exist- 
ence when his own Tuvaaluk program called a pause 
to fieldwork in order to begin concentrating on the 
analysis of data collected during the seventies. This 
pause, he adds, permitted "the Inuit and the Quebec 
government to establish a new deal." By this he ap- 
pears to mean the creation of the Avataq Cultural In- 
stitute, which began operation on November 1 , 1 980. 
Its archaeology division, however, did not come into 
existence until June 1 985 (Martijn 1 994). Although those 
in the profession tend to equate Avataq exclusively 
with archaeological work, this institute actually has a 
far broader mandate, namely that of looking after the 
cultural interests and needs of the fourteen Inuit com- 
munities in Nunavik. These include Inuit toponymy, Inuit 
language development and preservation, Inuit fam- 
ily genealogy and surnames, Inuit traditional medi- 
cine, the promotion of Inuit traditional skills, and, of 
course, Inuit archaeology and museology. Inuit El- 
ders are closely involved in these programs. The pro- 
vincial government funding for Avataq's archaeologi- 
cal department, initially under the direction of Ian 
Badgley and then of Daniel Gendron, primarily covers 
staff salaries to ensure administrative and scientific 

Three basic principles underlying the provincial 
government's financial support for such native cultural 
institutions were set out in a Quebec cabinet policy 
statement on February 9, 1983: 

[1] Quebec recognizes that the aboriginal 



peoples of Quebec constitute distinct 
nations, entitled to their own culture, lan- 
guage, traditions and customs, as well as 
having the right to determine, by themselves, 
the development of their own identity. 

[2] The aboriginal nations have the right to 
have and control, within the framework of 
agreements between them and the govern- 
ment, such institutions as may correspond to 
their needs in matters of culture, education, 
language, health and social services as well 
as economic development. 

[3] The aboriginal nations are entitled, within 
the framework of laws of general application 
and of agreements between them and the 
government, to benefit 
from public funds to 
encourage the pursuit of 
objectives they esteem 
to be fundamental 
(Quebec Government, 

For additional details, see the 
document issued by the Secre- 
tariat aux affaires autochtones 
(Quebec Government 1 988), as 
well as recent proposals regard- 
ing Quebec native heritage con- 
servation contained in the Arpin 
Commission report (Arpin 2000). 

Plumet seems to be ill-in- 
formed about these comprehen- 
sive cultural policy decisions 
judging from his belief that "the 
Inuit as well as the Quebec and 
Canadian governments probably 
felt it was easier to negotiate 
the symbolic value of the ar- 
chaeological heritage than the economic problems of 
the . . . rich mineral resources." Apparently unable to 
envision archaeology from other than an academic 
research perspective, he ignores the fact that the man- 
agement of archaeological resources across a vast 
territory such as Nunavik calls for measures, educa- 
tional as well as administrative, that do not necessarily 
concur with his own outlook. Hence, his belief that, 
"the New Quebec section of the Ministry of Cultural 

7 6. 1/ Daniel Weetaluktuk at Patterson Island 

Affairs and Avataq began a new archaeological project 
without any consultation with the university." 

Questions need to be raised regarding the manner 
in which archaeology has been practiced and con- 
trolled up north by outside researchers and institutions. 
What kind of feedback is being received by the native 
population about their own heritage? Community mem- 
bers must be taught the value of this heritage, for such 
an appreciation is not innate. They should be taking 
part in decision making processes relating to the pres- 
ervation and usufruct of those cultural resources. It 
would be useful in this con- 
nection to cite certain obser- 
vations by Daniel Weetaluk- 
tuk. In his experience (Kemp 
1982:1 1-12): 

Many Inuit do not know 
how useful archaeology 
is because no one ever 
bothered explaining its 
significance to them. All 
they ever see is some 
archaeologists that come 
during summertime then 
leave again before the 
snow comes so the Inuit 
has never become too 
interested. . . . Arctic 
archaeology has always 
been the southern 
archaeologists' thing for 
over the past 50 years 
and still is today. They 
have kept it that way so 
the Inuit of the eastern 
Arctic still doesn't know 
and understand it too 
well. ... So the Inuit has 
had to settle for being guides and they had 
little choice but to do so because of circum- 
stances involved, their lack of inside knowl- 
edge and proper training. . . . If the regular 
research cannot accommodate Inuit needs, 
then there should be parallel research 
designs for this purpose. 

In 1 983, echoing Daniel Weetaluktuk's vision, Inuit 
elders and community leaders expressed a wish to 
Avataq that more effort be made to include young 



people in archaeological programs (Avataq Cultural In- 
stitute 1985:245). The formula of a field school was 
eventually decided upon as a practical approach and 
has been applied during the course of several sum- 
mers. Thus far, more than seventy students represent- 
ing practically every Nunavik community have ben- 
efited from this experience. As a result, an increased 
understanding of the aims and techniques used by 
prehistorians has been disseminated at local levels. Such 
projects are run by Avataq staff members and quali- 
fied graduate student assistants in compliance with 
government archaeological permit regulations requir- 
ing a specific supervisor/student ratio. 

Plumet evidently does not consider this as a valid 
example of what he terms "new collaborative efforts 
between academic scholars and students and the Inuit 
interested in their arctic heritage." In his eyes, "the Tu- 
vaaluk Project offered an excellent training program" 
and he feels aggrieved that "quite different choices 
were made." All these affirmations contradict what he 
relates elsewhere, namely that the senior staff of his 
research team had decided pause fieldwork in order 
to begin analyzing data from the preceding decade. It 
is not clear how this situation would have meshed 
with Avataq's emphasis on field schools and its impli- 
cations for contract archaeology. What is more, there 
appears to have been an exodus from his Laboratoire 
d'archeologie during that time since "several students 
left for contract archaeology or to continue gradu- 
ate courses in other universities, since the University 
of Quebec in Montreal did not offer a graduate pro- 
gram in archaeology." Furthermore, he writes, "work- 
ing as a research assistant in an academic program 
was no longer attractive, except to the few who were 
deeply scientifically minded and were ready to accept 
long-term training and low incomes." In passing, it should 
be noted that several former student supervisors at 
Avataq projects have gone on to graduate studies, 
three M.A. theses using Avataq data have been com- 
pleted, and an additional M.A. thesis and one doc- 
toral dissertation are in progress. During the late 1 990s, 

despite unprecedented objections (Plumet 1 996), 
Avataq associated itself with specialists from Laval 
University in Quebec to carry out a multidisciplinary 
study of several Dorset Eskimo petroglyph sites in the 
region of Kangirsujuaq along the south shore of Hudson 
Strait (Arsenault et al. 1 998; Gendron et al. 1 996). More 
recently, Avataq has joined forces with researchers 
from Laval University and McGill University to under- 
take a long-term investigation of the prehistoric and 
historic archaeological heritage of Nunavik, under the 
auspices of the ARUC/CURA program (Community 
University Research Alliances) of the Social Sciences 
Research Council of Canada. 

Since no reference to them is found in Plumet's dis- 
quisition on his Inuit Period, I would like to dwell briefly 
on a few other points. With a grant from the Quebec 
Ministry of Culture, a booklet explaining Indian and 
Inuit archaeology, aimed in particular at native com- 
munities, was published by the Musee du Bas-Saint- 
Laurent (1 987). It is amply illustrated with photographs 
showing native students engaged in various kinds of 
archaeological activities. It was felt that this might help 
to change the image of archaeology as an exclusive 
qallunaat preserve. In past years, a number of young 
Inuit have participated in laboratory activities at the 
Avataq office in Montreal. This same institute also pub- 
lishes a cultural magazine for the Nunavik Inuit called 
Tumivut whose readership to date has been provided 
with eight popularized articles on arctic prehistory top- 
ics. Finally, a number of archaeological exhibits have 
been held in northern communities. 

Avataq also plays a part in the overall manage- 
ment of archaeological resources within Nunavik. Dur- 
ing the past two decades, government laws requiring 
environmental impact studies and mitigation opera- 
tions prior to the start of development and construc- 
tion projects have been instrumental in preventing the 
wholesale destruction of archaeological remains 
throughout the Province of Quebec. This legislation 
stimulated the development of contract archaeology, 
something which Plumet, perhaps as a purist, regards 

2 1 


with a certain ambivalence: ". . . it is contract archaeol- 
ogy that has dominated northern Quebec archaeol- 
ogy during the Inuit period. From 1 984 to 1 992, these 
projects drained at least $1 .6 million from the Ministry 
of Transport and the Ministry of Cultural Affairs." Else- 
where he confirms, however, that his Tuvaaluk pro- 
gram alone had been endowed with nearly $1 million. 

According to Plumet, "From 1 980 to the end of 
the 1990s, so little information has been published 
that it is difficult to follow the development of archae- 
ology in Arctic Quebec." In a recent review of Nagy 
(2000b), the first monograph to appear in Avataq's 
new Nunavik Archaeology Monograph Series, he writes 
that "the doctoral thesis of Murielle Nagy is the first 
archaeological publication by the Avataq Cultural In- 
stitute, active in this discipline for about 2 5 years" (Plumet 
2000:1 57 [author's translation]). This statement, un- 
fortunately, is both erroneous as well as misleading. 
First, the Avataq Cultural Institute was founded in 1 980 
(twenty years ago), but its archaeology division was 
not created until 1 985 (fifteen years ago). Second, while 
Nagy's thesis is in fact the first "monograph" in Avataq's 
new publication series, the Institute's archaeological 
staff thus far has published fourteen articles in bona 
fide scientific journals, with an additional four in press. 
They have also contributed eight popular articles (tri- 
lingual) to the Inuit cultural journal Tumivut and pre- 
sented thirty-five papers at scientific meetings and 
colloquia. In addition, three M.A. theses and forty-five 
field reports are available for consultation at Avataq's 
Montreal office, and copies of almost all of these have 
been deposited with the documentation center at the 
Ministere de la Culture et des Communications in Que- 
bec City. As for the artifact collections, some of these 
can be examined in Montreal, while others are stored 
at the Conservation Center in Quebec. Granted, this 
does not constitute an ideal situation, but it is not an 
uncommon one either in archaeological circles where 
information is passed on at more than just one level. 
With a bit of determination and time, any researcher 
interested in Nunavik prehistory can have access to 

Avataq's archaeological data. Even in the best of all 
possible worlds, we often have to grapple with differ- 
ent realities and be inventive with solutions. Plumet is 
certainly right in pressing for more frequent monograph 
production by Avataq, and he is to be commended 
for the regular appearance of his own archaeology re- 
ports in the Paleo-Quebec series over the past two de- 
cades. Hopefully, he will continue to persevere in the 
task of analyzing, synthesizing, and publishing the ex- 
tensive remaining data from his Tuvaaluk program. 

Plumet relates that, "Yves Labreche, an early assis- 
tant in Tuvaaluk and by this time a Ph.D. student at the 
University of Montreal, received a small grant from the 
Quebec Ministry of Cultural Affairs and the Secretary of 
the Autochthonous Affairs, through the University of 
Quebec in Montreal, to carry on limited ethnoarchaeo- 
logical research with the Inuit around Kangiqsujuaq 
from 1 985 to 1 989." I would like to add that Labreche 
(1989) also received funding from the Ministry to join 
a multidisciplinary expedition that carried out exten- 
sive scientific research at Pingaluit, the famous crater 
of Nouveau-Quebec. Labreche investigated historic 
archaeological remains along the crater's rim and 
around its slopes. Incidentally, he is a colleague who 
has gained credit for ensuring the participation of Inuit 
in every one of his field projects. 

In a dismissive footnote, Plumet uses terms such as 
"settling of scores," "manipulations," etc., to describe 
various attempts at creating a Quebec archaeological 
association. Each one of us carries away his own im- 
pressions of such events. As always, when different 
personalities come together, ambitions clash and con- 
flicts arise. What stands out in my mind about those 
early days is the exhilaration most of us felt at the 
prospect of creating a professional discipline and put- 
ting Quebec prehistory on the map. By the time the 
present Association des Archeologues du Quebec 
(A.A.Q.) came into existence, a new generation of ar- 
chaeologists had appeared on the scene. Those of the 
older generation, who still dreamed of exercising lead- 
ership roles, found that times had changed. A modus 


2 1 1 

vivendi exists today, with non-members regularly at- 
tending annual meetings where everyone can benefit 
from professional papers and discussions. As proof of 
this vitality, one needs only to take a look at publica- 
tion series such as Archeologiques, which makes avail- 
able texts delivered at conferences; Recherches Archeol- 
ogiques au Quebec, which provides in capsule form 
details about the projects carried out each year across 
the province; and Memoires Vives, which is devoted to 
historical archaeology. 

In his closing remarks, Plumet expounds on the rea- 
sons why, supposedly, there happens to be so little 
Quebecois interest in arctic archaeology. He hypoth- 
esizes that, "in Arctic Quebec the cultural and archaeo- 
logical heritage is directly linked to the Inuit popula- 
tion. . . . This heritage is largely alien to French Quebec 
culture, but its rapid, successful, and peaceful take- 
over by the Inuit, as well as the increasing trend to- 
ward self-rule by Inuit throughout the North American 
Arctic, is in contrast, at least in a symbolic sense, with 
the slow, conflict-ridden, and halting progress of Que- 
bec society toward its own autonomy." Furthermore 
he states that, "in southern Quebec as in southern 
Canada, the relationship with the Amerindians and their 
heritage is different. Amerindian communities had a 
history that was much more deeply linked with that of 
Quebec." Quoting statistics, he adds that an increasing 
number of Quebecois now claim Amerindian ancestry, 
and ends up by affirming that, "today, Quebec archae- 
ology is much more oriented toward Amerindian ar- 
chaeology, and especially toward contact and historic 
period archaeology." 

More mundane explanations might be the dearth 
of full-time job opportunities in Quebec arctic archae- 
ology, or the costs involved in mounting expeditions 
up north compared with similar activities in the south. 
As indicated earlier, another factor is the ever-growing 
menace of site destruction within densely inhabited 
southern areas that require large-scale and sustained 
interventions. It is not without reason that the Quebec 
Ministry of Culture and Communications has specific 

funding agreements with Quebec City and Montreal 
to safeguard archaeological resources, prehistoric as 
well as historic, in an urban renewal context. As to 
whether a remote biological affinity explains what 
Plumet interprets as a special attachment of Quebe- 
cois to Amerindian prehistory is a debatable point and, 
I suspect, largely irrelevant. Sites in the south are rela- 
tively more accessible, often more endangered, and, 
comparatively speaking, present a range of research 
problems just as intriguing as sites up north. Taima. 


I wish to thank William Fitzhugh and Stephen Loring 
for their comments on a previous draft of this paper, 
and I am obliged to Claude Pinard and Daniel Gendron 
for information on past and present archaeological 
activities engaged in by the Avataq Cultural Institute. 


1 . As an aside, the first recorded description 
of Inuit stone structures in Hudson Strait, on one 
of the Digges Islands, appears to have been made 
in 1610 by Abacuk Prickett, a crew member of 
Henry Hudson. According to his account, "Pass- 
ing along wee saw some round hills of stone, like 
to grass cockes, which at first I took to be the 
worke of some Christian. Wee passed them by, 
till we came to the south side of the hill; we went 
unto them and there found more; and being nigh 
them I turned the uppermost stone, and found 
them hollow within and full of fowles hanging by 
their neckes" (Asher, 1 960). 

Bibliography of Daniel Weetaluktuk 

1 978a Canadian Inuit and Archaeology. Ms. on file, 
Direction de I'archeologie et de I'ethnologie, Ministere 
des Affaires culturelles, Quebec. 

1 978b Preliminary Report on Archaeological Sites at 
Inukjuak (Port Harrison), Que. Ms. on file, Inventaire 
des sites prehistoriques, Direction de I'archeologie 
et de I'ethnologie, Ministere des Affaires culturelles, 

1 979a Proposal for Archaeological Salvage Project 
near Inukjuak, Quebec, East Coast, Hudson Bay. Ms. 
on file, Direction de I'archeologie et de I'ethnologie, 
Ministere des Affaires culturelles, Quebec. 

1 979b Review and Recommendations Concerning 

2 1 2 


the Policy for the Conduct of Archaeological Research 
in Northern Quebec, Inuit Perspective. Paper presented 
at the Combined Annual Meetings of the Canadian 
Archaeological Association and the Society for 
American Archeology, April 25, 1979, Vancouver. 

1 979c Preliminary Report on the Inukjuak Archaeo- 
logical Salvage Project, May-June 1 979. Ms. on file, 
Inventaire des sites prehistoriques, Direction de 
I'archeologie et de I'ethnologie, Ministere des Affaires 
culturelles, Quebec. 

1 979d Description of Dorset Eskimo Sites and Arti- 
facts at Inukjuak, Northern Quebec, Central East 
Hudson Bay. Ms. on file, Centre de documentation, 
Ministere des Affaires culturelles, Quebec. 

1 980a Document presente au Colloque sur I'archeo- 
logie quebecoise [French and English versions]. Acres 
du Colloque sur I'Archeologie Quebecoise, 5-7 avril 
1979, pp.1 01 -107, Centre de documentation, Di- 
rection general du patrimoine, Ministere des Affaires 
culturelles, Quebec. 

1 980b A Comment on the Conflicts between Anthro- 
pologists and Inuit. Paper presented at the Second 
Inuit Studies Conference, October 2, 1 980, Research 
Department, Makivik Corporation, Laval University, 
Inukjuak, Quebec. 

1 980c A Report of Preliminary Archaeological Sur- 
vey on Kidney Island, Sleeper Islands, N.W.T., Central 
East Hudson Bay, Summer 1 979. Ms. on file, Inventaire 
des sites prehistoriques, Ministere des Affaires 
culturelles, Quebec. 

1981a An Archaeological Report on the Ottawa Is- 
lands Archaeological, Natural and Wildlife Survey in 
Central Eastern Hudson Bay, Summer 1980. Ms. on 
file, Research Department, Makivik Corporation, Laval 
University, Inukjuak, Quebec. 

1981 b A Proposal for an Archaeological Survey of 
the Islands along the Hudson Bay Arc, Summer, 1 981 . 
Submitted to the Archaeological Survey of Canada, 
National Museum of Man, Ottawa, and the Prince of 
Wales Northern Heritage Centre, Yellowknife, N.W.T. 

1 981 c Potential Role of Inuit in Northern Research. 
Ms. on file, Research Department, Makivik Corpora- 
tion, Laval University, Inukjuak, Quebec. 

1 981 d Dorset Occupation at Inukjuak, Quebec. Ms. 
on file, Research Department, Makivik Corporation, 
Laval University, Inukjuak, Quebec. 

Weetaluktuk, D., and W. Kemp 

1981 Eastern Hudson Bay Archaeological Project: 
A Cultural/Ecological Perspective on Archaeological 
Sites of the Region. Submitted to the Social Science 
and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Ottawa. 


2 1 3 

Reply to Charles Martijn's "Second Opinion" 


There is no history without 'histories'— and without wit- 
ness and historical bias as well. Such histories, how- 
ever, help incline 'history' towards objectivity. My origi- 
nal presentation clearly states my bias as an actor in 
rather than an observer of archaeological research in 
Nunavik. I therefore welcome Martijn's "second opin- 
ion" as it helps place the development of Nunavik ar- 
chaeology into the wider field of Quebec archaeol- 
ogy, a subject about which Martijn has already de- 
voted considerable attention in previous papers. But 
some clarification is needed. 

My view of this history emphasized my direct ex- 
perience. Martijn correctly identifies two points (among 
many others) that I did not discuss: a preliminary ar- 
chaeological survey he conducted in 1 988 with Yves 
Labreche in the vicinity of the Nouveau-Quebec crater 
and the important role Daniel Weetaluktuk played in 
the development of the Inuit role in Quebec archaeol- 
ogy. Concerning the latter, it was, I think, in the fall of 
1 978 that Robert McGhee phoned me to suggest that 
the Tuvaaluk Project should consider hiring Weetaluktuk 
for the 1 979 field program, recommending him strongly 
as a promising young Inuit archaeologist and noting 
that a special grant might be available for this pur- 
pose. I welcomed this opportunity but was later in- 
formed that Weetaluktuk had accepted another posi- 
tion. Later I met Daniel two or three times and had a 
chance to show him the Tuvaaluk collections. He struck 
me as a perspicacious but shy fellow who might not 
feel comfortable as part of our French-speaking team. 
I was never able to form a professional opinion about 
his work because most of Daniel's archaeological ac- 
tivity in Nunavik postdated Tuvaaluk, and most of his 
written contributions cited by Martijn were unpublished 
reports on file at Makivik Corporation or at the Ministry 
of Cultural Affairs and were held in confidential status 
for five years after their deposit. 

Concerning the issue of Inuit participation in field 
programs, it is important to remember that the Tuvaaluk 

project was organized in less than three months in the 
fall of 1974. At that time, there was no sign of local 
interest in our research program from the Inuit. During 
the summer of 1 974, an Inuit couple from Quaqtaq 
and their children joined my family, which included two 
young boys, to share three weeks of common experi- 
ence, mainly in Akpatok Island where an archaeologi- 
cal survey had been planned, and in a hunting camp in 
Airartuuq, a small island of northwestern Ungava Bay, 
and also on Diana Island. This was hardly an academic 
experience, as the project was partly sponsored by 
Explo Mundo, a documentary film company from 
Montreal, which filmed the interaction between the 
two families as we went about our daily life conduct- 
ing archaeology and pursuing hunting activities. A 
popular book for children, in both French and English 
editions, resulted from this experience, which, among 
other topics, noted an interest in Inuit heritage. 1 Cop- 
ies of this book were provided to the villages of Nunavik. 
But even in 1975 and 1976, when the Tuvaaluk field 
program began, Quaqtaq Inuit continued to show little 
interest in archaeology. Had the project been conceived 
in 1977 or later, I imagine the Inuit communit/ might 
then have taken an important role in the project's de- 
velopment. In that case, rather than being the last 
project in my "Quebec period," it would have been the 
first of the "Inuit period," for, as mentioned in my pa- 
per, the political situation in northern Quebec and the 
attitude of the Inuit toward archaeological research 
changed rapidly after 1 977. 

As an archaeologist, I did not feel comfortable en- 
gaging in political activism, but with regard to the 'might 
have beens' of Martijn's criticism of the Tuvaaluk Project 
as overly academic in orientation, I certainly would 
have been enthusiastic about a broader community 
approach. On several occasions, beginning in 1981, I 
suggested to Martijn and/or to Michel Noel, who were 
then in charge of New Quebec archaeology at the 
Ministry of Cultural Affairs, that the Tuvaaluk Project 
might play a role in the development of Inuit ar- 
chaeology by conducting a field school. During this 

2 1 4 


period I also explored with my university administra- 
tion the possibility of obtaining space for laboratory 
work by Inuit students who had by then begun to 
express an interest in archaeology. It is unfortunate 
that none of these suggestions took root, since Inuit 
students at that time likely would have been inter- 
ested in a formal program of archaeological study. As 
it happened, such programs did not begin until the 
late nineties, as mentioned by Martijn, when Daniel 
Arsenault, a scholar from the CELAT center at Laval 
University, became involved in Avataq research. 

I never felt "aggrieved," but I was certainly puzzled 
by the way new archaeological research was begun 
again in New Quebec under the instigation of the Min- 
istry. When an archaeologist contemplates starting a 
project in a site or an area which has recently been 
studied by another archaeologist or professional team, 
professional courtesy as well as scientific efficiency 
calls for consultation with others who have conducted 
work there previously, especially as they may consider 
returning. William Fitzhugh consulted with me before 
starting his program in northern Labrador, and we both 
benefited from the ensuing exchange of information. I 
had a similar exchange with Elmer Harp following 1 972 
and with an archaeologist working in Blanc Sablon when 
I became involved in 1 989 with research at Paleo- 
eskimo sites in that region. However, I learned of new 
work in Nunavik only by rumor, months after it had 
begun, in communication with Ian Badgley. This re- 
search was directed at the important Groswater site 
that had been discovered near Quaqtaq during the 
last year of the Tuvaaluk Project, and at Nunainnguq in 
western (McLelan) Strait, where preliminary field work 
had been carried out by the Torngat Archaeological 
Project and the University of Quebec in Montreal team 
in 1978 and 1979. 

Martijn is misinformed when he states that I never 
hired a single Inuk for my excavation crew. In the 
mid-seventies, three young Inuit selected by the 
Quaqtaq community were hired for excavations at 
Tuvaaluk site. They were welcomed by all, participated 

in the scientific work, and had to eat our mostly dehy- 
drated food. As it turned out they did not enjoy the 
meticulous excavating procedures, disliked the sed- 
entary nature of digging, and expressed dissatisfac- 
tion with our food, and after a week departed and 
returned to their village. 

I also assisted the emergence of a First Nations 
archaeology program beginning in the early seven- 
ties, following a meeting with William Craig which 
was organized by Bruce Trigger at McCill University 
in March 1 970. As the need for such a program had 
been expressed by the Intertribal Council of Native Stu- 
dents, I obtained an agreement in principle from my 
newly-founded university (1 969) to support coopera- 
tive programs in Native North American studies for 
Native students. The project evolved first within Loyola 
College and McGill University (Craig 1 972) before shift- 
ing for a brief time to Manitou College of La Macaza, 
north of Montreal, which finally closed around 1 976 
(Beaudoin 1977). 

I still argue, as I have recently in the case of Kenne- 
wick Man (Plumet 2000), against the ownership of ar- 
chaeological remains, not particularly by the First Na- 
tions minorities as has been insinuated by Martijn, but 
by any individual, collectivity, or any administrative or 
political entity such as a municipality, a state, or a na- 
tion, although such entities should be responsible for 
the preservation of archaeological sites as part of world 
heritage. I also do not believe that archaeology can or 
should be used to establish territorial or political rights. 
But I cannot let Martijn's other unfounded insinuation 
stand, that my reasons for these beliefs are based on a 
fear that such ownership infringes upon my right of 
access to archaeological research! My reasons for these 
beliefs have been clearly stated in several papers and 
have nothing to do with personal motives. 

The development of archaeology in Northern Que- 
bec is not just academic history. As a Neo-Quebecker 
a newcomer— in Canadian and Quebec society, I di- 
rected my work toward specific goals: the prehistoric 
archaeology of Arctic Quebec and the development 


2 1 5 

of my discipline, as it had been requested by my uni- 
versity. I did not have the personal legacy of earlier 
generations to motivate me to take up the political 
causes that Canadian, Quebecers, or the Inuit some- 
times engage in. When I expressed my views publicly, 
I tried to do so as a witness and as one who was 
explicitly a neo-Canadian or neo-Quebecker, avoiding 
any personal identification with any cause. But as an 
actor in a profession that was linked to ideological 
and political interests, I have also been a pawn, and I 
have both benefited and suffered from the circum- 
stances. As such, I did not express publicly my per- 
sonal feeling about these circumstances and did not 
allow myself to be personally affronted when they 
were unfavorable. But I tried, often unsuccessfully, 
to understand the process in which these circum- 
stances occurred. I still do not feel able nor authorized 
to carry on any systematic historical investigation on 
these subjects. 

But to conclude, I would like to suggest some re- 
search avenues for future historians. It might be instruc- 
tive and enlightening to investigate more thoroughly 
the role of factors such as the complex and very sensi- 
tive intercultural relationships and the cultural, lin- 
guistic, and political rivalry which— from the sixties 
on in Quebec— have been especially exacerbated 

and complicated by being frequently disguised in a 
vague and very "politically correct" manner. Such sen- 
sitive interactions have not been limited to any one 
population, but only the prehistoric and historic found- 
ing populations could realize their quest for self-image 
through archaeology. The roots of what might be per- 
ceived as a "blinkered" anti-academic bias at the be- 
ginning of the Avataq archaeological program remain 
to be understood in its sociological and cultural con- 
text, and, possibly, its consequences need to be ap- 
praised. The results of the Tuvaaluk project should also 
be judged not only in terms of its contribution to ar- 
chaeological knowledge, but also on its impact on 
the development of Inuit archaeology as represented 
through its legacy in Avataq, which borrowed many 
Tuvaaluk methods and terminology. And even more 
broadly, one might consider whether conducting 
archaeology in French, as has been done in Quebec 
Arctic since 1967, was a blind ally in terms of the 
evolution of Nunavik archaeology and the emer- 
gence of its Inuit identity. 


1 . Poutoulik chez les Inouit, and Putuiik with the 
Inuit. Montreal, Heritage, 1 977 and 1 978. Text by 
Nicole Rich-Plumet, photographs by Patrick Plumet. 

2 1 6 


P arlt) j£)ird /Archaeologists among the 

£)al:e /\ppieS: A Quick Swoop along Quebec's Lower 
North Shore 

JEAN-YVES PINTAL (pictured) 

The Lower North Shore of Quebec forms the north- 
eastern coastal boundary of the Gulf of St. Lawrence 
and stretches for more than 400 kilometers from the 
village of Kegaska, opposite the eastern tip of Anticosti 
Island, to Blanc Sablon, at the western end of the Strait 
of Belle Isle (fig. 1 7.1). Inside the Gulf, myriad islands 
and archipelagos are strung along most of its heavily 
indented coastline. A cold continental climate prevails, 
with long severe winters but relatively little snowfall, 
and short wet summers marked by frequent fog. The 
rich and varied marine fauna has served as a mainstay 
for human occupation for at least 8,000 years. 

The Early Elders 

More than a century ago, T. G. B. Lloyd (1 874) de- 
scribed a collection of prehistoric Amerindian objects 
found on the coast of southern Labrador and, among 
other things, speculated that some of the archaeo- 
logical remains that occurred in Newfoundland might 
turn out to be "mountaineer" (i.e., Innu) sites of the his- 
toric period. Martijn (1 990a) subsequently compiled 
an ethnohistorical record of Innu/Montagnais hunting 
and trapping voyages to western Newfoundland. The 
possibility that such small seasonal population move- 
ments across the Strait of Belle Isle represented a tradi- 
tional pattern practiced by the prehistoric ancestors 
of the Innu/Montagnais now has been confirmed at 
the North Cove site (EgBf-08) near Ferolle, Newfound- 
land (Hull 1 999:1 6, 1 9). It has also been proposed that 
the Beothuk were traveling to the north shore of the 

Strait of Belle Isle, mostly in the Blanc Sablon area 
(Marshall 1 996; Pintal 1 998). 

The first bona fide archaeological work in the area 
of the Quebec Lower North Shore appears to have 
been done by Alfred V. Kidder who, while on his way 
to Labrador in 1910, made a stopover at Blanc Sablon. 
The results of his reconnaissance, however, were never 
published (Fitzhugh 1972b:!). 1 

During the late 1920s, William J. Wintemberg car- 
ried out a more intensive survey project at selected 
locations along the entire length of the Quebec North 
Shore. Many of us tend to identify Wintemberg with 
Iroquoian studies and think of him primarily as an 
Ontario archaeologist. During the 1920s and 1930s, 
however, he was quite active in other parts of Eastern 
Canada as well Genness 1941 ; Swayze 1960). In fact, 
as far as Quebec is concerned, Wintemberg was the 
first person to provide that province with an idea of 
the geographical scope and cultural variety of its ar- 
chaeological resources (Martijn 1979:8). Many well- 
known sites in Quebec, such as Lanoraie, Batiscan, 

21 7 

/ 7. 1/ Map of Quebec's Lower North Shore 

Mingan, Kegashka, and Brador, were all initially investi- 
gated by Wintemberg. His research interests, however, 
covered a much more extensive area. In fact, it can be 
said without exaggeration that his footprints can be 
found everywhere around the rim of the Gulf of St. 
Lawrence, from the North Shore to Newfoundland, Nova 
Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. Sev- 
eral decades later, when Richard Pearson and Charles 
A. Martijn carried out preliminary work on the Magdalen 
Islands in the middle of the Gulf, they started off by 
retracing Wintemberg's footsteps there as well (Mc 
Caffrey 1986:1 11-11 3). 

Someone should take on the task of gathering to- 
gether and annotating Wintemberg's personal and 
scientific papers in order to provide us with a bet- 
ter perspective on what specific research interests ini- 
tially drew him to the Gulf of St. Lawrence region. Con- 
sidering his general state of health, it is truly amazing 
that he covered such a vast territory. Born in 1 876 in 
New Dundee, Ontario, he was frail at birth; doctors 

Cabot StraitX 

diagnosed him with a weak heart. 
He started school at a late date and 
was obliged to stop during his early 
teens. A job as a compositor with a 
printing firm in Toronto caused his 
health to deteriorate even further 
when lead poisoning affected his 
lungs. Despite such setbacks, Win- 
temberg continued to pursue his in- 
terests with unflagging energy. He 
read voraciously, developing a pas- 
sionate interest in all kinds of sub- 
jects, including archaeology. Even- 
tually this led him to seek employ- 
ment with the Ontario Provincial 
Museum and, later on, with the Na- 
tional Museum of Man in Ottawa (fig. 
1 7.2). In 1928, at the relatively ad- 
vanced age of fifty-two, he began a 
brief career as a subarctic archae- 
ologist, traveling by boat along the 
entire Lower North Shore. His trip to Newfoundland 
the following year, in 1 929, unfortunately undermined 
his physical health and culminated in a series of heart 
attacks. Thereafter, he restricted his archaeological 
activities to Ontario until his death, on April 25, 1 941 , 
at the age of sixty-five. 

It appears that Wintemberg left few records, such 
as field notes, diaries, or office correspondence, relat- 
ing to his 1928 excursion along the Quebec North 
Shore. For details, we have to rely on artifact catalogs 
and a series of typewritten extracts, which seem to 
have served as a daily journal (Wintemberg 1 928). 
Wintemberg appears to have engaged primarily in sur- 
face collecting and some test-pitting. He recovered 
several hundred archaeological specimens that can be 
assigned to a variety of Amerindian, Paleoeskimo and 
Historic Inuit occupations. He focused his research on 
two places: Kegaska and the Brador-Blanc Sablon re- 
gions. Summary accounts of his North Shore findings 
were filed with the Canadian Museum of Civilization 

2 1 8 


(Smith 1929:333; Wintemberg 1928); they were 
also incorporated into articles synthesizing avail- 
able information on specific topics, such as the 
use of shell beads among the Beothuk, possible 
Beothuk graves in the Brador-Blanc Sablon area, 
and the geographical distribution of aboriginal 
pottery in Canada (Wintemberg 1 936, 1 942). The 
publications on his investigations at Dorset 
Paleoeskimo sites in northwestern Newfound- 
land (Wintemberg 1 939, 1 940), however, are more 

On the basis of typological similarities, Wintem- 
berg demonstrated that his Newfoundland sites 
were affiliated with the Dorset culture, which had 
originally been defined by Diamond Jenness from re- 
mains uncovered in Hudson Bay. Wintemberg's hypoth- 
esis that most of the Newfoundland coastal zone was 
once inhabited by Dorset people has been confirmed 
by more recent research. At the time, opinions varied 
on whether arctic-adapted Paleoeskimo cultures had 
evolved out of boreal interior populations. Based on 
his pioneering excavations in Labrador, William Strong 
(1 930) had initially defined an Old Stone culture that 
he regarded as a basic Amerindian stratum from which 
later Eskimo and Indian cultures evolved. Wintemberg, 
however, underscored the need to develop a more 
refined cultural-chronological sequence in order to re- 
solve a variety of related questions, for example: Could 
the Eskimo-like artifacts from Strong's sites be attrib- 
uted to the Dorset culture? Was it the Eskimo or the 
Beothuk that had used gouges, stone adzes, long 
polished knives or lance points, and grooved stone 
plummets, or were these objects the remains of an 
earlier Amerindian people? Two questions arising from 
Wintemberg's work at Kegaska still remain unresolved. 
First, did he actually obtain Paleoeskimo material there 
and, if he did, does it belong to the Croswater or the 
later Dorset culture (de Laguna 1 946:1 08, fig. 8; Taylor 
1964b:196)? Second, is his Kegaska pottery of 
Iroquoian or Algonquian origin (Martijn 1 990b: 51 -52; 
Taylor 1 964b:l 91 )? Subsequent surveys at Kegaska 

7 7.2/ William J. Wintemberg at the National Museum of Man 

have failed to uncover any trace of Paleoeskimo re- 
mains or Iroquoian pottery (Chapdelaine and Chalifoux 
1 994), but more recent excavations at La Romaine, 
75 kilometers east of Kegaska, have led to the discov- 
ery of two sites containing Amerindian ceramics from 
the Middle Woodland period (Pintal 1 995, 1 996). This 
discovery suggests that the Algonquians who fre- 
quented the Lower North Shore obtained their pottery 
through exchanges with trading partners from areas 
located along the upper St. Lawrence valley where 
Amerindian ceramics are abundant. The scarcity of Late 
Woodland ceramics in the area suggests that the St. 
Lawrence Iroquoians visited the Lower North Shore 
infrequently during this period, but this pattern changed 
after they came into contact with Europeans, who 
encouraged them to travel further from their home- 
land (Martijn 1 990b). 

In his methodical way, Wintemberg steeped him- 
self in the available literature dealing with arctic prehis- 
tory and incorporated this information in the conclud- 
ing sections of articles relating to his North Shore and 
Newfoundland excursions. Clearly respected by his 
North American colleagues, he was invited to review 
William Duncan Strong's A Stone Culture from Northern 
Labrador and its Relation to the Eskimo-like Cultures of 
the Northeast ( Wintemberg 1 930). His publications and 
judicious views were cited by Frederica de Laguna 


2 1 9 

(1 946) in her well-known synthesis article "The Impor- 
tance of the Eskimo in Northeastern Archaeology," and 
she paid tribute to him as "our beloved and regretted 
Wintemberg" (de Laguna 1946:10). His obituary was 
written by Diamond Jenness (1941). Another Ottawa 
colleague, Douglas Leechman, in collaboration with 
James B. Griffin, submitted a manuscript, which was 
found among Wintemberg's effects at the time of his 
death, to American Antiquity for posthumous publica- 
tion (Wintemberg 1 942). 

Although he was restricted by circumstances from 
making a major contribution to northern prehistoric 
archaeology, Wintemberg, nevertheless, won recogni- 
tion from his peers as a full-fledged participant in its 
developmental stage. Meticulous, disciplined, obser- 
vant, and endowed with an incisive and questioning 
mind, Wintemberg must be considered as a sterling 
example of the arctic archaeology pioneer. Jenness 
(1941:66) wrote that "without question he was the 
leading authority on Canadian archaeology, and his 
advice was sought by scholars everywhere, but he 
remained always the simple and modest student, eag- 
er to learn and to help others in their quest." 

Esteemed Younger Elder 

Another noted elder, Elmer Harp, Jr., began his prehis- 
tory research program in the Strait of Belle Isle twenty 
years after Wintemberg's 1928 excursion, but he did 
not actually visit the Quebec Lower North Shore until 
1961 when he worked at Blanc Sablon (Harp 1951, 
1964a, 1964b). By this time, archaeological research 
in the arctic and subarctic, in terms of both field meth- 
ods and theory, had been transformed. Surveys and 
excavations were being carried out in a more system- 
atic and detailed fashion. Harp was the first archaeolo- 
gist to apply these approaches in the Strait of Belle Isle 
and on the Lower North Shore. He was also the first 
scholar to propose a chronological sequence for the 
sites he discovered there, combining an absolute chro- 
nology based on radiocarbon dates with a relative 
chronology tied to raised beach terraces (Table 1 7.1 ). 

Harp (1964a, 1964b, 1969-1970, 1976a, 1976b) 
also played a role in refining our thinking about Amer- 
indian cultural chronology, Indian-Paleoeskimo contact 
in the Northeast, and Dorset Eskimo affinities. Douglas 
S. Byers (1 959) had initially proposed the concept of a 
Boreal Archaic and subsequently put forward the idea 
of a distinct cultural phase, the Maritime Boreal Archaic, 
for the Atlantic coast. 2 Harp (1964b) integrated his 
Amerindian data from Blanc Sablon and the Strait of 
Belle Isle into Byers' scheme and added early, middle, 
and late subdivisions that were distinguished on the 
basis of projectile point and knife types, the variability 
of lithic raw material, and the absolute altitude of the 
terraces on which the sites were located. Harp and 
Hughes (1968) eventually formulated a more elabo- 
rate chronological sequence for the entire Strait of Belle 
Isle region, and the publication of their radiocarbon 
dates, some of which are very old, have attracted the 
attention of archaeologists interested in the Archaic 
period of the Northeast. They also demonstrated that 
some Amerindian occupations preceded the arrival of 
the Paleoeskimo and found that evidence for contact 
between these two groups was much more difficult 
to establish than had previously been supposed. 

A lucid writer, an able teacher, and a gentleman of 
the old school, Harp served as an inspiration to the 
succeeding generation of researchers in this area, sev- 
eral of them his own students. They used his publica- 
tions as a point of departure in expanding their own 
ideas and interpretations about arctic prehistory. 

In 1988, the Quebec Ministry of Culture officially 
classified the western section of the Blanc Sablon River 
mouth as a protected archaeological zone. This deci- 
sion was made largely on the basis of Harp's 1961 
pioneering work, which drew attention to the excep- 
tional quality and variety of the prehistoric remains 
concentrated in that sector (Pintal 1 998). 

Contemporary Practitioners 

Among more recent practitioners is J. A. Tuck whose 
excavations at the Port-au-Choix cemetery in 



Newfoundland redefined the Archaic Maritime tradi- 
tion for the northeast (Tuck 1971). Tuck showed that 
this period was characterized by a continuous adap- 
tation to a given environmental setting by a single 
population practicing a similar way of life. In subse- 
quent work along the north shore of the Strait of 
Belle Isle, McGhee and Tuck (1975) formulated a 
detailed regional chronology of human occupation 
extending from 9000 to 3000 B.P., which was marked 
by a fluorescence between 7500 and 3500 B.P. On 
the basis of lithic analysis, they concluded that there 
had been no drastic cultural transformation but only 
gradual change through time involving a number of 
variables. Later research activities extended this occu- 
pation period within the Strait to 2000 B.P. (Madden 
1976; Tuck 1982). 

Although William W. Fitzhugh (1981) made only 
one brief visit to the Lower North Shore at fle-au-Bois 
before initiating research in the area in 2001, his 
large-scale investigations in Central Labrador allowed 
him to identify a series of archaeological complexes 
and phases (Paleoeskimo as well as Amerindian), pro- 
pose a chronological sequence, and elaborate a set 
of cultural models and subsistence-settlement sys- 
tems. While modified over the years, his work still 
serves as the basic theoretical framework for the 
entire Far Northeast (Fitzhugh 1 972b). Fitzhugh's real- 
ization that some Amerindian cultural units formed a 
continuum spanning several millennia while others 
were disrupted between phases led him to ques- 
tion the validity of Tuck's hypothesis of a single con- 
tinuum that incorporated all regional cultural mani- 
festations (Fitzhugh 1 975). In addition, his study of 
subsistence and settlement patterns raised questions 
about the validity of the concept of a constant, un- 
varying dependence on maritime food resources. 
Fitzhugh suggested that this type of exploitation had 
changed through time, with some Amerindian groups 
exploiting maritime food resources only intermit- 
tently while others relied on both maritime and ter- 
restrial fauna for their daily sustenance. It is obvious 

that a balanced perspective on the variability of cul- 
tural adaptations in the Far Northeast can only be 
achieved by organizing research programs oriented 
toward both interior and coastal sites. 

The archaeological surveys carried out by Charles 
A. Martijn (1 974) in the Salmon Bay/Riviere Saint-Paul/ 
Vieux-Fort area demonstrated that this area compared 
closely with the Blanc Sablon district and Newfound- 
land and Labrador in terms of the quantity of sites, 
cultural variety, and chronological sequences present. 
Martijn initiated an evaluation of the prehistoric role of 
the Saint-Paul River as an interior link between the Lower 
North Shore and the Labrador coast; he was also the 
first person to undertake ethnoarchaeological research 
in the area. The work done by Rene Levesque (1 976) 
at Blanc Sablon and Brador, although primarily oriented 
toward surface collecting, provided a cross-section of 
the extensive local prehistoric remains tied to a chro- 
nological framework. 

Until the mid-1 980s, archaeological projects in the 
Strait of Belle Isle itself had uncovered little information 
relating to late Amerindian prehistory (2000 B.P. -con- 
tact). McGhee and Tuck (1975:126) suggested that 
this lack of data could be attributed to the existence 
of hostile relations between Amerindian and Paleo- 
eskimo populations between 2500 and 1 500 B.P., lead- 
ing the Amerindians to retire inland. They also postu- 
lated that after the Paleoeskimos left, the Amerindian 
groups in the area failed to readapt to coastal subsis- 
tence practices, thus turning the Strait into a kind of 
"no man's land." This situation was thought to have 
lasted until the arrival of European fishermen during the 
sixteenth century. Following Harp's pioneering efforts, 
extensive research activities in the Brador/Blanc Sablon 
area during the past decade, beginning with Levesque's 
(1 976) work, have substantially modified this interpre- 
tation. It is now clear that the western extremity of the 
Strait was frequented by both Inuit and Indian groups 
on a regular basis during Recent Prehistoric times (Pintal 
1 989), while Indian groups alone occupied the rest of 
the Lower North Shore. 


An extensive interdisciplinary archaeological pro- 
gram undertaken between 1983 and 1990 in the La 
Tabatiere/Blanc Sablon region under the aegis of the 
municipality of Blanc Sablon and the Quebec Ministry 
of Culture has considerably improved our comprehen- 
sion of local Amerindian and Inuit occupations (Groison 
et al. 1985; Pintal 1998). Directed by Jean-Yves Pintal, 
this program emphasized extensive site excavations, 
settlement pattern analysis, and the study of adaptive 
systems. A systematic survey in the region led to the 
identification of nearly 200 sites, twenty of which, thus 
far, have been excavated (about 1 ,000 square meters). 
More than fifty radiocarbon dates are now available, 
providing a solid chronological framework. Field re- 
ports, computerized data on site locations and their 
cultural content, and related bibliographies can be 
consulted by contacting Inventaire des sites archeo- 
logiques du Quebec (ISAQ) at the Ministere de la Cul- 
ture et des Communications in Quebec. The archaeo- 
logical collections themselves are stored at the Labor- 
atoire d'archeologie of the Centre de Conservation. 

Additional field projects, consisting mainly of sal- 
vage operations connected with road construction, 
sewage systems, and hydroelectric development, have 
also been carried out at localities further west, such as 
Belles-Amours, Salmon Bay, Riviere St-Paul, Vieux-Fort, 
St-Augustine, LaTabatiere, Lac Robertson, La Romaine, 
Musqua and Kegaska. More than sixty field reports 
and articles that deal with the prehistory of the entire 
Lower North Shore have accumulated. The syntheis of 
this data (Pintal 1 998) has bolstered the concept of a 
distinct chronological framework based on the defini- 
tion of new phases and complexes. It also has pro- 
vided insights on the intra-site spatial organization 
through time, and mobility and settlement pattern char- 
acteristics for the prehistoric population. 

Lower North Shore Cultural-Chronological 

The initial intrusion of Amerindians into the Quebec 
Lower North Shore region appears to have taken 

place more than 8,000 years ago (Table 17.1). McGhee 
and Tuck (1975) have proposed a cultural continuity 
between the small triangular points found on the earli- 
est campsites and Paleoindian remains from the Mari- 
time Provinces. As yet, there is no consensus about 
the route that Amerindian groups may have taken. 
Chevrier (1 996b:86) subscribes to the theory that they 
came from the Maritime Provinces by way of Cape 
Breton Island and Newfoundland. Unfortunately, the 
archaeological record in the Maritimes cannot be ex- 
amined because most of the coastal prehistoric sites 
dating to this period (8000 to 5000 B.P.) are submerged 
underwater because of coastal subsidence (Tuck 1 984). 
On the other hand, Groison (1 985:1 33), in his discus- 
sion of the EiBg-7 site at Blanc Sablon, and Lasalle and 
Chapdelaine (1 990:1 5), in a review of late glacial and 
Holocene events in the Champlain and Goldthwait Seas 
areas, have adopted a more cautious stance. They point 
to the need for additional problem-oriented archaeo- 
logical research in the St. Lawrence River valley and 
along the entire North Shore. 

The definition of a Maine Archaic Tradition at the 
beginning of the 1990s (Robinson 1992) has allowed 
us, to a certain point, to associate the underlying quartz 
technological tradition with the most ancient sites in 
the Strait of Belle Isle. It has been suggested that the 
initial peopling of the North Shore derived from this 
archaic source and that the region around Quebec City 
may have served as a departure point for these pio- 
neer populations (Pintal 2000). Similar cultural assem- 
blages have been found in the Quebec area (Laliberte 
1992; Pintal 2000) and on the Upper North Shore 
(Archambault 1 994, 1 998; Pintal 2001 ; Plourde 2000). 

However, differences in the tool-types discovered 
along the Lower North Shore and the Upper North Shore 
now suggest that the initial peopling of these two 
areas followed two different trajectories. The cultural 
affinity of the early Lower North Shore hunting groups 
is basically an Archaic one. These groups practiced a 
mixed economy based on a foraging type of territorial 
mobility, and they exploited a wide range of coastal 



resources. Their funerary rites, which are associated with 
burial mounds, are among the oldest known in the 
Northeast (McGhee 1976a). 

From 6500 to 5000 B.P., the region participated in 
the development of the Maritime Archaic Tradition, 
and it maintained close connections with this culture 
in the Strait of Belle Isle, Labrador, and Newfoundland. 
Sites dating to this period, and to that of the Maritime 
Archaic climax, have been found between Blanc Sablon 
and Vieux-Fort (Beaudin et al. 1987; Martijn 1974). A 
number of other components occur further west, all 
the way to Kegaska (Pintal 1 998). After 5000 B.P., with 
the florescence of the Maritime Archaic Rattlers Bight 
complex in Central Labrador, the Blanc Sablon district 
and the Strait of Belle Isle were relegated to a periph- 
eral position and became cultural backwaters. 

If this is the case for the Blanc-Sablon area, the 
reverse is true for the Mecatina/La Tabatiere region 
where cultural remains are abundant, some bearing a 
striking resemblance to artifacts found at the Port-au 
Choix cemetery. During this period, it appears that new 
Amerindian populations already present on the Middle 
North Shore began to penetrate the eastern sector of 
the Lower North Shore, specifically, the Old Fort/St. 
Paul River area. 

By 3500 B.P., the Maritime Archaic Tradition had 
started to decline. The above mentioned newcomers 
probably assimilated the remnant Maritime Archaic 
groups, and the Lower North Shore underwent a cul- 
tural revival marked by experimentation with different 
types of environmental adaptations (Pintal 1 998). 
Middle Woodland pottery, as well as Meadowood 

Table 1 7. 1 / Chronological sequences proposed for Strait of Belle Isle, Newfoundland, and Central Labrador 


Strait of Belle-Isle 






Central Labrador 

Inn u 

















Anse Morel 
Anse Lazy 

Longue Pomte 









Cow Head 















2 2 3 

ideological practices and Middlesex ceremonial burial 
customs, diffused eastward from the St. Lawrence low- 
lands, most likely through both coastal and interior 
trade networks (Chevrier 1 996b; Loring 1 989). In fact, 
the Lower North Shore has as many, if not more, sites 
with typical Middle Woodland pottery as it has sites 
with Upper Woodland ceramics. 

From 1000 to ca. 400 B.P., the Lower North Shore 
was regularly exploited by Recent Prehistoric bands, 
which practiced a mixed subsistence economy with 
an emphasis on seal hunting during the spring season. 
In fact, because of the intensity of seal exploitation 
from 1 500 B.P. onward, these bands may have devel- 
oped a form of sedentariness in the Blanc Sablon re- 
gion (Pintal 2000). They maintained strong links with 
groups on both sides of the Strait of Belle Isle, as well 
as in the adjoining regions of Southern Quebec-Labra- 
dor Peninsula and western Newfoundland (Pastore 1 989; 
Pintal 1 989, 1 998, 2000; Robbins 1 989). In Labrador, 
the Recent Prehistoric period is represented by the Point 
Revenge complex, which is distinctive for its use of 
Ramah chert, and in Newfoundland by the Little Pas- 
sage complex, which relied primarily on western New- 
foundland chert deposits for its lithic raw material. Some 
scholars suggest that these culture groups were an- 
cestral, respectively, to the historic Innu/Montagnais 
(Point Revenge for Labrador and I'Anse Morel for the 
Lower North Shore) and the Beothuk (Little Passage). In 
the Blanc Sablon district and along the eastern Lower 
North Shore, the archaeological material from Recent 
Prehistoric sites is related to remains that characterize 
the Little Passage complex defined in Newfoundland. 
Since this material occurs in a different territory, it has 
been given its own designation, the I'Anse Morel com- 
plex (Pintal 1 998, 2000). 3 But considering the fact that 
this material has been found all along the littoral of the 
Lower North Shore, it is likely that it belonged to a 
local resident group, who alternated occupation sites 
on either side of the Strait of Belle Isle. Following the 
European settlement of this area, this group may have 
merged with groups from the interior of the Quebec- 

Labrador peninsula to form the ancestors of the Mamit 
Innuat (Eastern Innu) population. 

With the arrival of European fishermen and whalers 
in the sixteenth century, the Lower North Shore Amer- 
indians modified their seasonal subsistence cycle. They 
extended their stays along the coast to the entire sum- 
mer in order to maximize trade exchanges for the 
material bounty that these newcomers had to offer. 

Paleoeskimo groups (Late Pre-Dorset Groswater) 
initially appeared on the Lower North Shore around 
2800 B.P. To date, nine Paleoeskimo sites have been 
discovered; these include small camps on Ne-Verte and 
ile-au-Bois, and larger mainland sites at Blanc Sablon, 
Brador, Middle Bay, and Salmon Bay (Martijn 1974; 
Pintal 1 994; Plumet et al. 1 994). Five radiocarbon dates 
are available for three of these sites. The Paleoeskimo 
settlement pattern is characterized by the exploita- 
tion of coastal faunal resources, primarily during the 
months of April, May, andjune, when large numbers of 
seal herds frequent the Strait of Belle Isle and its ex- 
tremities. Comparative studies of artifact assemblages 
indicate a close relationship with Groswater sites in 

Later Dorset sites (2200-1 200 B.P.) are much less 
common in the Lower North Shore region, especially 
in contrast to the abundance of local Amerindian 
remains from the same time period. This may indi- 
cate that access to the area by Middle Dorset groups 
may have been hindered by an increased Amerindian 
presence. Although the archaeological data provide 
no specific evidence for contact between Paleo- 
eskimos and Amerindians (Plumet et al. 1994), re- 
cent research suggests that the two groups stayed 
near each other and exchanged certain goods, such 
as lithic raw material and various types of tools (Pintal 
2000; Renouf 1 999). 

On the basis of ethnohistorical accounts, Martijn 
(1 980) has postulated that, starting in the 1 580s, the 
Historic-period Inuit along the Labrador coast began 
to make seasonal excursions into the Strait of Belle Isle 
to obtain European goods at Basque whaling stations. 



Furthermore, based on the discovery of various Inuit 
material objects and a human mandible from one of 
several stone structures in a boulder field near Riviere 
Saint-Paul, Martijn and Clermont (1 980) have concluded 
that, between 1640 and 1690, the Inuit gradually ex- 
tended their winter activities westward into the Gulf. 
The excavation of two Historic-period Inuit semi-sub- 
terranean winter houses at the Bay of Belles-Amours 
offers additional archaeological support for this thesis 
(Dumais and Poirier 1 994). 4 

During the past few decades, our knowledge of 
prehistoric events in the Lower North Shore region 
has broadened considerably. At the same time, the 
public's understanding of excavation aims and proce- 
dures has grown locally and, as a result, the protec- 
tion of archaeological remains is now better assured. 
Expanding research objectives and an increasingly 
sophisticated methodology are adding further depth 
and ever-larger dimensions to the initial sketches of 
Lower North Shore prehistory that were drawn by 
the first elders. 


1 . For perspectives on the history of archaeo- 
logical research in the Lower North Shore region and 
its cultural-chronological sequence within the wider 
context of the Quebec-Labrador peninsula, see 
Chevrier (1 996a, 1 996b); Cinq-Mars and Martijn (1 981 ); 
Harp (1 984); Harris (1 987); Fitzhugh (1 972b); Martijn 
(1 988, 1 998); Pintal, J.-Y. (1 998); Taylor (1 964b); Tuck 
(1 975a, 1 982, 1 984); and Wright (1 995). 

2. For a general review of the Archaic concept 
in the Northeast, see Byers (1 959); Clermont (1 992); 
Fitzhugh (1972a); Robinson (1992); Starna (1979); 
Tuck (1 975a); and Wright (1 972). 

3. A review and assessment of the Point Re- 
venge cultural construct presently identified at sites 
ranging all the way from Labrador to the estuary of 
the St. Lawrence River would be a worthwhile sub- 
ject for an archaeological conference session. 

4. In another context, Auger (1994) has com- 
mented on the relative absence of Historic Inuit re- 
mains within the Strait of Belle Isle. There may have 
been environmental reasons why, during specific 
periods in the past, native groups did not dally sea- 
sonally within the Strait, but used it primarily as a 
passage way between the Labrador coast and the 
Gulf of Saint Lawrence. 


2 2 5 

T~^ e EJ U51ve [_anclr 


Archaeologists working in the Eastern Arctic have long 
been interested in determining the southern range of 
Paleoeskimo populations and in documenting evidence 
for interaction between Paleoeskimo and Amerindian 
groups (Beauchamp 1 899; Fitzhugh 1 980b; Martijn and 
Clermont 1980; Plumet et al. 1994; Speck 1931). As 
early as 1 885, A. S. Packard commented on the nine- 
teenth-century presence of Labrador Inuit as far south 
as the Quebec North Shore. He suggested that, "the 
facts we here present should induce our New England 
and Canadian archaeologists to make the most care- 
ful examination of the shell-heaps about the mouth of 
the St. Lawrence, and on the shores of northern and 
southern Nova Scotia, as well as Maine and northern 
Massachusetts for traces of Eskimo occupation" (Pack- 
ard 1885:473; see fig. 18.1). 

During the 1 940s, Frederica de Laguna wrote about 
the possibility of "borrowed traits" in Dorset culture- 
artifacts that appear "as a result of borrowing from the 
Indians, or which have been loaned by the Eskimo to 
the Indians" (de Laguna 1946:111). Both de Laguna 
and, later, William Ritchie (1951) were particularly in- 
terested in the possible derivation of Archaic-period 
ground-stone technology from Paleoeskimo peoples. 
Of course, the onset of radiocarbon dating demon- 
strated that this premise was untenable, since Archaic 
ground-stone ulus and spear points were found to pre- 
date Dorset occupation in the Eastern Arctic (Bourque 

More recently, discussions of cultural interactions 
between Paleoeskimo and Amerindian peoples have 

focused on Dorset and Point Revenge groups on the 
Labrador coast and the Lower North Shore of Quebec. 
Particularly intriguing is the evidence for intensive utili- 
zation of Ramah chert by Late Prehistoric period groups 
at a time when the northern coast of Labrador, includ- 
ing the region of the Ramah quarries, was occupied by 
the Dorset (Loring 1 992, this volume; Pintal 1 989, 1 998). 

The Landry Site 

As this Chapter demonstrates, an archaeological site 
purported to have been found during the 1 930s in the 
Gaspe Peninsula of Quebec played a memorable, al- 
beit less than critical, role in the history of research on 
the southern range of Paleoeskimo occupation. My first 
encounter with the "Landry site" took place in the win- 
ter of 1985 as I was going through boxes of long- 
ignored archaeological collections in the storage room 
of the McCord Museum situated in downtown Mon- 
treal. I had volunteered to unpack and identify the 
artifacts, secretly hoping that an important, or at least 
interesting, collection might be lurking under the old 
crumbled newspapers. 

As I unpacked a small group of what appeared to 
be Paleoeskimo and Labrador Inuit artifacts, a label fell 


7 8. 1/ Map of the the Gulf of Saint Lawrence region and places mentioned in 
the text. 

out of the wrapping paper and caught my attention. It 
read "Found by Captain Ambrose Landry. Back of New- 
port, Gaspe, Quebec, in a supposed Eskimo stone ig- 
loo." The artifacts consisted of a tiny ivory bear incised 
with a skeletal motif, four perforated ivory pendants, 
an ivory awl, a slate endblade, two miniature steatite 
lamps, a bone tool fragment, and a small ivory object 
of undetermined function (fig. 18.2). 1 Entries in the 
museum's accession books revealed only that the arti- 
facts had originally been donated to the Redpath Mu- 
seum of McGill University by Duncan M. Hodgson on 
September 14, 1939. The objects had come to the 
McCord Museum during a reorganization of the col- 
lections held by McGill University's museums in the 

Evidence for Southern Paleoeskimo Sites 

The possibility that Paleoeskimo people had visited 
and camped on the Gaspe peninsula was of par- 
ticular interest to me in 1 985. I had recently begun an 

archaeological research project in- 
volving the fles-de-la-Madeleine, a 
chain of small islands located near 
the center of the Gulf of St. Law- 
rence. In preparation for fieldwork, 
I had examined lithic artifacts sur- 
face collected on the islands by 
WilliamJ. Wintemberg in the 1 930s 
and Charles A. Martijn in 1 977, at 
which point I had identified a pos- 
sible Dorset endblade (McCaffrey 

The triangular endblade of 
heavily patinated beige chert or 
siltstone had been collected by 
Martijn from a site he discovered 
at Portage-du-Cap, on fie du Havre 
Aubert (fig. 1 8.3). The site, con- 
sisting of nine surface concentra- 
tions of lithic artifacts, was situ- 
ated on a terrace rising 1 5 meters 
above the Baie de Plaisance. Martijn's surface collec- 
tion also included flakes from quartzite beach cobbles, 
quartz pieces esquillees, and some finished artifacts and 
flaking debris of what appeared to be Ingonish Island 
rhyolite, a raw material that originated in Nova Scotia. 
Martijn's field notes and photographs indicated that 
the site was severely damaged by erosion. 

The chert endblade recovered from Portage-du-Cap 
resembles Dorset triangular endblades from Newfound- 
land, where Paleoeskimo occupation dates from about 
2800 tol300 B.P. (Renouf 1999). To date, however, 
no Dorset sites have been found south of Newfound- 
land. The only other instance of a well-documented 
Paleoeskimo artifact found in a southern context is the 
burin-like tool from the Goddard site in Maine (fig. 1 8.4). 
Situated near Blue Hill Bay on the central Maine coast, 
the Goddard site was occupied several times between 
the Middle Archaic and the Early Contact periods. Most 
abundant at the site are the remains of a Late Ceramic 
period occupation dating from approximately 1 000 


18.2/ Artifacts from the Landry Collection at the McCord Museum include: ivory artifacts (left), a slate end blade 
(middle) and two miniture soapstone lamps (right). ' All objects shown at 1:1 scale. 

to 500 B.P. During this period, the Goddard site ap- 
pears to have encompassed a major village occupied 
during the summer and early fall with a primary subsis- 
tence focus on marine resources. The assemblages at- 
tributable to the Late Ceramic period are of particular 
interest because of the high frequency of exotic lithics 
and the presence of native copper. The diversity of 
lithic materials identified on the site supports the view 
that the occupants of Maine, Quebec, Labrador, and 
the Atlantic provinces participated in a wide-ranging 
exchange network during the Late Prehistoric period 
(Bourque 1994; Bourque and Cox 1981). 

While examining the endscrapers collected at the 
Goddard site during work that had taken place in the 
1950s, Steven Cox identified a Dorset burin-like tool: 

The tool itself is made of chalcedony from an 
unknown source, and is a typical Dorset form 
with ground and polished faces and margins. 
Originally, the tool probably functioned as a 
graver in working bone, antler and ivory, but 
this particular specimen appears to have 
been unifacially retouched along a basal 
break, transforming it morphologically into 
an endscraper. Reworking of this sort is not 
characteristic of Dorset, and it is likely that 

an Indian group reworked the tool into the 
more familiar endscraper form. (Bourque and 
Cox 1981:24) 

Bourque and Cox (1981:25) suggested that this 
tool was most likely introduced to the Goddard site 
by way of exchange with aboriginal groups living to 
the northeast. They emphasized that no additional data 
exist to suggest that there had been an actual Dorset 
occupation at the site. They also pointed out the ex- 
istence of other examples of previously unrecognized 
Dorset artifacts found in a southern context (Bourque 
and Cox 1981:24-25): "Smith and Wintemberg pic- 
ture, but do not identify, two Dorset harpoon heads 
from a shell heap at Merigomish, Nova Scotia (Smith 
and Wintemberg 1929:plate 20:1, 2), as well as at 
least two other artifacts from the same area which 
may be Dorset (plate 20:4, 5)" [reproduced as fig. 1 8.5]. 

The Correspondence 

The discovery of the Landry collection was certainly 
both surprising and intriguing. At last, there appeared 
to be substantial evidence of a Paleoeskimo pres- 
ence south of the St. Lawrence River. Moreover, the 



cm 5 

1 i i 1 1 1 

1 8.3/ Front and back views of Dorset end blade 
found at Portage-du-Cap (ChCI-1), lies de la Madeleine 

significance of the find had gone unrecognized be- 
cause the collection had been packed and stored in 
the McCord Museum for decades. I quickly contacted 
Charles A. Martijn, an archaeologist and ethnohistorian 
then employed at the Ministere des affaires culturelles 
in Quebec, to share the news of what I thought might 
be a very important discovery. 

To my surprise, Martijn informed me that I was not 
the first to ponder the significance of a possible Paleo- 
eskimo site on the Gaspe peninsula— the "elders"of East- 
ern Arctic archaeology had dealt with the issue long 
before me. Furthermore, they had left behind a stack 
of correspondence 2 on the topic, which Martijn for- 
warded to me. The letters had been sent to him in 
1 976 by William Fitzhugh, then a curator and chair- 
man of the anthropology department at the National 
Museum of Natural History (NMNH), Smithsonian Insti- 
tution. Fitzhugh's note read as follows: "P.S. I'm also 
sending you some correspondence which I think would 
be interesting to you and your Quebec friends. Henry 
Collins dug the correspondence out for me and I find it 
a fascinating topic which should surely be investigated 
further. The possibility of Eskimo sites in the northern 
Gaspe would be extremely interesting. Someone re- 
ally ought to check this out further, very carefully" (Let- 
ter from Fitzhugh to Martijn, January 1 2, 1 976). 

18.4/ Burin-like tool found at 
Goddard site, Maine, shown 
1:1 scale 

The letters, all dating to between March and Octo- 
ber of 1952, were written by some of the most re- 
spected names in arctic research— Vilhjalmur Stefans- 
son, Henry Collins, Elmer Harp, and Max Dunbar. They 
recorded their speculations and discussions about a 
"curious" collection of artifacts found in Newport, Gaspe. 
The first letter, dated March 30, 1952, was from 
Stefansson, an explorer and Arctic consultant at the 
Baker Library, Dartmouth College, to Henry B. Collins, a 
curator in the anthropology department at the NMNH. 
The letter began with an exciting invitation: "Evelyn 
and I got home from a week in Canada yesterday and 
brought a small parcel of specimens and the outline of 
a story, both intended for you, the trophies to be sent 
to you if you reply affirmatively on the basis of the 
story which now follows." 

The parcel of specimens Stefansson referred to were 
Paleoeskimo artifacts supposedly collected in New- 
port, Gaspe, by a certain Captain Ambrose Landry, who 
lived in the region. Stefansson went on in the March 
30 letter to relate the whole story, which he had heard 
from Duncan M. Hodgson, a wealthy Montreal stock- 
broker, McGill graduate, and member of the Field and 
Stream Club who had led expeditions to Africa. Ac- 
cording to Hodgson, Captain Landry had found the 
specimens under a rock on the floor of a "stone igloo." 
Apparently, he had discovered several of these struc- 
tures by following an old road into an area of scrub 
maples near the town of Newport, located close to 
the southeastern tip of the Gaspe peninsula. Unfortu- 
nately, Landry had died leaving no notes or map to 
record his startling discovery. 

Stefansson continued to relate the story he had 
heard from Hodgson: 


2 29 

An arrangement was made during a winter 
for a trip in to the site the following summer; 
but that winter the informant died. Through 
various reasons no proper search has been 
made since, but the impression still remains 
that the reported discovery is authentic: that 
there are several of these stone houses, that 
they are still standing, that the discoverer 
entered at least one of them, and that he found 
the specimens under the flags of a stone floor. 
(Stefansson to Collins, March 30, 1952) 

Stefansson described the artifacts as "indubitably Es- 
kimo," and as "one of two things, the toys of an Es- 
kimo girl child or the token gear made for a deceased 
woman for her use in the spirit world." He then listed a 
miniature soapstone cooking pot, a miniature soap- 
stone lamp, a polished stone, some bone implements, 
a blade, and a tooth. He had obtained the collection 
on loan from the Redpath Museum of McGill Univer- 
sity, "to whom the specimens now belong." Tentative 
plans for an expedition were laid out. 

Hodgson is still eager to follow up and will, I 
feel sure, make all the necessary legal (if any 
are required) and physical arrangements for 
the search. His feeling is that the party 
should go prepared for a search of several 
days, though less may suffice, that the best 
time is October, when the leaves are off the 
trees. But his friend (and yours and mine) Max 
Dunbar wants to be in on this and has to 
leave for a year in Denmark next August; so 
the trials would then be in April or May. 
(Stefansson to Collins, March 30, 1 952) 

Maxwell (Max) J. Dunbar, a well-known figure in actic 
research, was a graduate of McGill University and a 
member of the faculty from 1946 until his death in 
1995. A marine biologist, zoologist, oceanographer, 
and medal-winning polar explorer, Dunbar designed 
the research vessel Calanus, the first Canadian ship 
specifically made for arctic marine research (Grainger 
1 995:306-307). It is not surprising, then, that Dunbar 
was anxious to join in the search for this remarkable 
site. Stefansson's letter concluded with a formal invita- 
tion. He felt sure that Hodgson "would love to finance 
and lead a scientific junket to Gaspe" (Stefansson to 
Collins, March 30, 1952). Max Dunbar had expressed 
interest. Would Collins join them? 

Plait- XX 

/ 8. 5/ Two Dorset hapoon heads (1,2) and other arti- 
facts that may be Dorset from Merigomish, N.S. 

Henry Collins's response to Stefansson, in a letter 
dated April 10, 1952, was enthusiastic: "You hold out 
a tempting prospect in suggesting that I might join 
the expedition to the Gaspe. If the ruins can be found 
and there was a possibility they could be excavated 
or investigated, I would certainly be glad to go along." 
Continuing in a more serious vein, Collins wrote: "The 
possibility of Eskimo stone iglus in the Gaspe penin- 
sula is intriguing indeed. It would be a matter of real 
importance to determine whether Eskimos had once 
lived that far south. It would not be unreasonable, as 
Dorset cultural remains (but no houses) are found on 
Newfoundland." Collins suggested that Stefansson 
show the specimens to Elmer Harp who "could tell 
you definitely if they are Dorset." At the time, Elmer 
Harp was curator of anthropology at the Dartmouth 

2 30 


College Museum and an assistant professor of soci- 
ology. He was also a Ph.D. candidate at Harvard 

We next pick up the thread of this story on May 23 
with a letter Harp wrote to Collins after seeing the 
collection of artifacts: 

I was very much interested when Stef 
brought over the small collection of artifacts 
from that site near Newport on the Caspe, 
and I felt certain that you would like to know 
more about them too. The enclosed photo- 
graph is for your file ... In order to give you 
a somewhat better idea of the specimens I 
have also enclosed my own brief notes and 
sketches (which I would appreciate your 
returning at some future time). (Harp to 
Collins, May 23, 1952). 

Interestingly, the collection described by Harp is 
different from the one I had unpacked in the McCord 
Museum. Although Harp's notes and sketches are miss- 
ing from the correspondence file, he listed the artifacts 
and their catalog numbers below the photograph. 
Another search in the McCord's accession books re- 
vealed that the objects described by Harp had indeed 
been accessioned into the Redpath Museum in 1 939. 
The collection consisted of a miniature stone lamp, 
one complete and three fragmentary slotted bone knife 
hafts, three bone tool fragments, a boat-shaped ste- 
atite artifact, a bone or ivory wedge, a perforated tooth 
cap, and a smooth stone. 3 Although a later letter men- 
tions that Stefansson would give the artifacts back to 
Dunbar to return to Montreal, this collection has not 
yet been located. 4 

Harp offered Collins some tentative conclusions re- 
garding the possible cultural affiliation of the artifacts: 

My impression of this material, coupled with 
the meagre description of the stone houses, 
leads me to believe that it stems from 
comparatively recent Labrador Eskimo. It 
seems to be akin tojunius Bird's finds from 
Hopedale, but at the same time there is for 
me a suggestion of Dorset influence. I see 
this particularly in the bone hafts which have 
been slotted for side blades, and also in the 
basal socket (or open bed) of 4882-A. As I 
have noted on the cards, this latter specimen 

appears to have one face missing, in which 
case I would suspect a true socket; on the 
other hand, perhaps that face of the artifact 
is only somewhat eroded and perhaps there 
was only an incised bed in the stem. At any 
rate, your greater experience will lead to 
more certain interpretation. (Harp to Collins, 
May 23, 1952) 

Obviously impressed with the implications of this dis- 
covery, Harp went on to question Collins: "[T]his find 
from the Gaspe is most interesting. Am I correct in 
believing that it is the first authentic Eskimo material 
known from the southern shore of the Gulf of St. 
Lawrence." Harp expressed hope that a late summer 
trip to the Gaspe would be feasible, and offered to 
participate and help in some way or at least act as an 
observer should McGill University take the lead. 

On May 28, 1952, immediately after receiving a 
copy of Harp's letter to Collins, Stefansson wrote to 
Max Dunbar at McGill University. He reviewed his dis- 
cussions with Collins and Harp and enclosed a copy of 
Harp's letter describing the artifact collection. 

As soon as Elmer [Harp] was ready to make a 
preliminary report [on the artifacts he had 
seen] we had a meeting at our house of the 
8 or 1 most interested Dartmouth people, 
who proved most enthusiastic on the basis 
of Elmer's views. We feel there should be two 
"expeditions" to Newport, Gaspe, the first of 
only two or three just to locate the site; the 
second properly equipped, with rightly 
chosen members, to investigate the site. We 
feel that McGill, or at any rate Canadians, 
should be the leaders; but we at Dartmouth 
hope for the role of junior partners. 
(Stefansson to Dunbar, May 28, 1952) 

In the last paragraph of this letter we learn that Dunbar 
planned to visit Stefansson at his home in Dearing, 
Vermont. Stefansson suggested combining this visit 
with a meeting to talk over the project with Duncan 
Hodgson, Harp, and some other interested Dartmouth 
people. He hoped that Collins would be able to make 
it, or alternatively, would share his views by letter. 

In June 1 952, a number of lengthy letters were ex- 
changed between Stefansson, Collins, and Harp. Their 
discussions explored such topics as the occurrence of 


2 3 1 

stone structures at sites across the Arctic that might 
compare to the "stone igloos" of the Gaspe peninsula; 
the identification of arctic sites where artifacts were 
found under flagstones; the possibility that the New- 
port artifacts were actually located in a storage com- 
partment under a sleeping platform; and the impor- 
tance of expanding the initial Newport survey to in- 
clude a broader area of the Gaspe and the Lower North 
Shore. In a letter to Harp on June 1 3, Collins explained, 
"Of more immediate interest, in connection with the 
Newport finds, would be a similar survey all around 
the Gaspe Peninsula, to see whether this southernmost 
of all Eskimo sites is an isolated phenomena or whether 
the Eskimos had at some time in the past actually oc- 
cupied these coasts." 

Finally, in ajune 1 7 letter, Stefansson wrote to Collins 
to explain that a meeting had been set up to plan the 
expedition: "As I think I mentioned in my last letter, the 
Dunbars will be here at Dearingjuly 1 2-1 3 and Sun- 
day, July 1 3, a party from Hanover will join us to 
plot a Gaspe campaign. If only you could join us." 
The July meeting proved to be the turning point in the 
saga of the elusive Landry site. In a letter from Harp to 
Collins, dated July 28, we learn the disappointing out- 
come of Dunbar's visit: 

Max [Dunbar] expressed a strong doubt 
concerning the authenticity of the site. First 
of all, it turns out that Landry, who is re- 
ported to have discovered the site and 
collected the material, was a member of the 
Bernier Expedition which wintered in Craig 
Harbour, southern Ellesmere Island, in 1 922- 
23. He is believed to have brought some 
Eskimo material home with him, and Max 
suspected that out of this had grown either 
an innocent or humorous hoax, or else an 
innocently garbled report. (Harp to Collins, 
July 28, 1952) 

The Bernier Expedition refers to one of the many 
arctic voyages undertaken by Captain Joseph Elzear 
Bernier (1852-1934), who had a long and illustrious 
career as a seaman, explorer, entrepreneur and lec- 
turer. He first went to sea at the age of fourteen, and 
eventually commanded over 100 sailing vessels on 

voyages all over the world, including many trips to the 
Arctic. For example, between 1912 and 1917, Bernier 
made three voyages to Pond Inlet on Baffin Island, 
where he maintained a trading post until 1 920. From 
1922 to 1925, Bernier worked for the Canadian gov- 
ernment patrolling eastern Arctic waters. During these 
voyages, he spent time at Craig Harbour, Dundas 
Harbour, Pond Inlet, and Pangnirtung. In sum, it seems 
clear that if Landry was on board for one of Captain 
Bernier's expeditions, he most likely did have the op- 
portunity to visit the Arctic (Dorian-Robitaille 1978; 
Fairly 1954; Marsh 1988). 

Remaining optimistic, Harp expressed hope in his 
July 28 letter that the site would still be located: "If I 
can finish my thesis soon enough, I would still like to 
drive up to Newport and look around for a few days, 
although I couldn't hope to gain much from interviews 
because my text-book Parisian French doesn't stack 
up too well with the local dialect." A final letter men- 
tioning the Landry collection was written by Collins to 
Stefansson on October 9. It begins with Collins' ac- 
knowledgment of uncertainty as to the "authenticity" 
of Landry's find. He agrees that no further steps should 
be taken to pursue the project. 5 The letter quickly 
moves on, however, to explore other research issues 
that had been raised in the course of discussions about 
the presumed Landry site— such as the nature and dis- 
tribution of stone floors and stone habitations on sites 
across the Arctic. Although one small chapter in the 
history of arctic archaeology had come to a prema- 
ture conclusion, Collins' letter makes it clear that many 
chapters remained to be written, and there was no 
point in losing time before tackling other unresolved 


Almost fifty years have passed since these letters were 
written. In the meantime, a number archaeological re- 
search projects have taken place in the Gaspe penin- 
sula. For the most part, however, surveys and excava- 
tion work have been concentrated along the northern 

2 32 


1 8.6/ Aerial view of Portage-du-Cap site, iles-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec 

coast and in the western interior region. The record 
of prehistoric and early historic period occupation 
along the southern coast remains very poorly docu- 
mented and relatively unknown. Although none of the 
sites discovered to the present time in the Gaspe pen- 
insula have produced Paleoeskimo materials, the fact 
remains that many parts of the peninsula, including 
the area around Newport, have not yet been carefully 

The situation on the fles-de-la-Madeleine is quite 
different. In the summer of 1 988, I began an archaeo- 
logical survey program, sponsored jointly by the Munici- 
pality des Iles-de-la-Madeleine and the Ministere des 
affaires culturelles in Quebec. Three seasons of field- 
work, from 1 988 to 1 990, on the islands demonstrated 
that this tiny archipelago has a much richer archaeo- 
logical record than anyone had thought possible, es- 
pecially considering the islands' distance from the 
mainland and their high rate of erosion (McCaffrey 1 992, 
1 993). To date, more than thirty-six prehistoric sites, 
as well as two historic period occupations, have been 

Although excavations have yet to be carried out 
on the Iles-de-la-Madeleine, my limited test excava- 
tions and surface collections have provided many in- 
dices as to the age and cultural affiliation of certain 

prehistoric occupations. 
Diagnostic lithic artifacts 
recovered from a num- 
ber of sites suggest that 
the islands may have 
been occupied as early 
as the Late Paleoindian 
and Early Archaic periods 
(8000-6000 B.P.). Dis- 
tinctive concave-based 
projectile points found 
on the surface of three 
sites compare well with 
similar specimens recov- 
ered from Prince Edward 
Island and other parts of the Maritime Provinces. In 
addition, two sites have produced side-notched pro- 
jectile points that most probably date to the Archaic 
period (6000-3000 B.P.). In general, however, this time 
period is not yet well represented on the Iles-de-la- 

Finally, stemmed projectile points have been re- 
covered from the surface and in test excavations at 
quite a few of the sites. This tool style was frequently 
found in association with fragments of ceramic ves- 
sels, indicating occupations dating to the Ceramic pe- 
riod (2500-500 B.P.). Charcoal samples from hearths 
on two of these sites, ChCk-1 and ChCl-18, returned 
dates of 1 560 ± 60 B P. (Beta-3021 5) and 1 709 ± 1 00 
B.P. (Beta-44550), respectively, supporting the Ceramic 
period affiliation. 

During the 1 988 field season, I paid particular at- 
tention to the careful investigation of site ChCI-1 at 
Portage-du-Cap in the hope of finding further evidence 
(in addition to the Dorset endblade discovered in 
1 977) to confirm a Paleoeskimo presence on the is- 
lands. Although lithic material was recovered from the 
surface of the site, no diagnostic Paleoeskimo artifacts 
were located. Moreover, the site was found to be com- 
pletely disturbed due to a combination of wind ero- 
sion and all-terrain vehicle activity (fig. 1 8.6). Perhaps 


2 3 3 

the Dorset endblade was not brought to the site of 
Portage-du- Cap by Paleoeskimos but, instead, arrived 
on the islands as a result of exchange activities, much 
like the Dorset burin-like tool found on the Goddard 
site in Maine. Then again, the endblade may have been 
washed ashore in a dead or injured seal and carried up 
from the water's edge by Ceramic period occupants 
of the site. Nevertheless, the fact remains that the Tles- 
de-la-Madeleine, with their rich marine resources that 
included seal and walrus herds, would have been po- 
tentially very attractive to Paleoeskimo visitors. 

Additional evidence indicating the southern pres- 
ence of Paleoeskimos has recently come to light on 
the French islands of Saint-Pierre et Miquelon, off the 
southern Newfoundland coast. Preliminary archaeologi- 
cal work at the I'Anse-a-Henry site, on the island of 
Saint-Pierre (LeBlanc 2000), has produced evidence of 
occupation by both Groswater (2800-2100 BP) and 
Dorset Paleoeskimos (1900-1 100 BP). 


For a very brief period, planned research on the Landry 
site held out the promise that new frontiers in our 
knowledge of Paleoeskimo occupation in the North- 
east would be explored. It should come as no surprise, 
then, to discover that the purported site was immor- 
talized in the literature. In a 1939 publication entitled 
Sur le peuplement de I'Amerique du Nord, Aristide 
Beaugrand-Champagne, one of Quebec's pioneering 
archaeologists, alluded to the possibility of an Inuit 
site in the Gaspe region: ". . .during the French Regime, 
Eskimo could still be found on the North Shore from 
the Natashquan River region to the Strait of Belle Isle, 
and on the west coast of Newfoundland. I have heard 
that remains of Eskimo houses were found in the Gaspe 
peninsula a few years ago . . ." (Beaugrand-Champagne 
1939:253, my translation). 

Back at the McCord Museum, I have been tempted 
to put the artifacts from the "supposed Eskimo stone 
igloo" at Newport, Gaspe, back in a drawer with their 
original label. Perhaps a stimulating new debate would 

arise when they are rediscovered in a few decades. 
Meanwhile, the elusive Landry site stands in the his- 
tory of Eastern Arctic archaeology as a reminder of the 
many unanswered questions that await further research, 
and as a testimony to the innocence, enthusiasm, and 
freewheeling exchange of ideas and information (of- 
ten across borders and disciplines) that characterized 
the elders' approach to research. We can only hope 
that arctic archaeologists always value these charac- 
teristics and never lose their sense of humor. 


There are few archaeologists working in Quebec (or 
the wider Northeast for that matter) who have not 
benefitted, at one time or another, from the advice 
and assistance of Charles A. Martijn. I consider myself 
privileged to be a member of this group. I would also 
like to thank William Fitzhugh for inviting me to present 
this paper at the Elders Conference on the History of 
Archaeology in the Eastern Arctic held in 1993 at 
Dartmouth College. Barbara Lawson, Curator of An- 
thropology at the Redpath Museum, McGill Univer- 
sity, and Calen Haak, Registrar at the Hood Museum, 
Dartmouth College, took time from their busy sched- 
ules to try and track down the missing part of the 
Landry collection. Finally, Bruce Bourque, Steven Cox, 
and Stephen Loring contributed valuable informa- 
tion and provided helpful comments on an earlier 
version of this paper. 


1 . Landry Collection artifacts as pictured in Fig- 
ure 1 8.2 and their catalog numbers are: (far right) 
two miniature steatite lamps, ACC4829A, 
ACC4829B; (botton right) bone tool fragment 
ACC4834; (middle) slate endblade ACC4828; (bot- 
tom left, L to R) two perforated ivory pendants 
ACC4831 B, ACC4831 A; (middle row, far left) perfo- 
rated ivory pendant, ACC4831C; (middle row, 2nd 
from left) an ivory awl ACC4832A; (middle row, 3rd 
from left) perforated ivory pendant, ACC4832B; (top 
left) ivory bear with an incised skeletal motif 
(ACC4830). Not pictured is a small ivory object of 
undetermined function (ACC4832C). 

2 34 


2. This correspondence is located in the Henry 
B. Collins Papers, National Anthropological Ar- 
chives, Smithsonian Institution. The letters cited 
in this chapter are listed below. 

3. The catalog numbers of the artifacts listed 
by Harp but currently lost are: a miniature stone 
lamp (ACC4880); one complete and three frag- 
mentary slotted bone knife hafts (ACC4882A, 
ACC4882C, ACC4883A, ACC4883B); three bone 
tool fragments (ACC4882B, ACC4883C, ACC4886); 
a boat-shaped steatite artifact (ACC4881 ); a bone 
or ivory wedge (ACC4884); a perforated tooth cap 
(ACC4885); and a smooth stone (ACC4879). 

4. My search for the missing artifacts proved 
futile. Both Barbara Lawson, Curator of Anthropol- 
ogy at the Redpath Museum, McGill University, 
and Calen Haak, Registrar at the Hood Museum, 
Dartmouth College, attempted to track down the 
lost artifact collection. Our efforts were unsuccess- 
ful despite searches at both institutions. 

5. In the 1 950s, Graham Rowley (personal com- 
munication 1 993) asked a woman living in Ottawa 
to visit the Newport region to see if she could 
learn more about the supposed Inuit site. Accord- 
ing to Rowley, Margaret Lavender apparently 
spoke to Captain Joseph Bernier's nephew and 
conveyed to Rowley her impression that the 
Landry site was indeed a hoax. 


The letters cited in this chapter are from the Henry B. 
Collins Papers, National Anthropological Archives, 
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. and include: 

Letter from Vilhjalmur Stefansson, Dartmouth College 

Museum, to Henry B. Collins, Smithsonian Institution, 

dated March 30, 1952. 
Letter from Wilfrid Bovey, Montreal, to Colonel Leon 

Lambert, Quebec Provincial Police, Quebec, dated 

April 8, 1952. 
Letter from Henry B. Collins, Smithsonian Institution, to 

Vilhjalmur Stefansson, Dartmouth College, dated 

April 10, 1952. 
Letter from Elmer Harp, Jr., Dartmouth College Museum, 

to Henry B. Collins, Smithsonian Institution, dated 

May 23, 1952. 
Letter from Vilhjalmur Stefansson, Dartmouth College 

Museum, to Maxwell J. Dunbar, McGill University, 

dated May 28, 1952. 
Letter from Vilhjalmur Stefansson, Dartmouth College 

Museum, to Henry B. Collins, Smithsonian Institution, 

dated June 1 , 1 952. 
Letter from Henry B. Collins, Smithsonian Institution, to 

Elmer Harp, Jr., Dartmouth College Museum, dated 

June 1 3, 1952. 
Letter from Henry B. Collins, Smithsonian Institution, to 

Vilhjalmur Stefansson, Dartmouth College Museum, 

dated June 1 3, 1 952. 
Letter from Vilhjalmur Stefansson, Dartmouth College 

Museum, (actually Dearing Farm, Vermont) to Henry 

B. Collins, Smithsonian Institution, dated June 1 7, 


Letter from Elmer Harp, Jr., Dartmouth College Museum, 
to Henry B. Collins, Smithsonian Institution, dated 
July 28, 1952. 

Letter from Henry B. Collins, Smithsonian Institution, to 
Vilhjalmur Stefansson, Dartmouth College Museum, 
dated October 9, 1952. 

Letter from William W. Fitzhugh, Smithsonian Institu- 
tion, to Charles A. Martijn, Ministere des affaires 
culturelles, Quebec, dated January 12, 1976. 


2 3 5 

Ben Ell, Deric O'Bryan's Inuit assistant from Coral Harbor, at Mill Island in Hudson Strait, with the ring seal he shot, 
July 1951 


j^)atj5 of ["uture f^ast: Huralizmgllastern Arctic, 
Subarctic /Xrchaeologt) 


Time present and time past 

Are both perhaps present in time future, 

And time future contained in time past . . . 

Footfalls echo in the memory 

Down the passage which we did not take 

Towards the door we never opened . . . 

(T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets) 

Retrospective Prologue 

The main body of this chapter is a historical artifact. It 
consists of my 1993 Elders Conference contribution, 
only slightly modified in form and content. Since the 
theme of this volume is a history of eastern arctic ar- 
chaeology, it seems appropriate to leave the text largely 
as it was first composed to preserve traces of that 
time past. The conference paper, however, became a 
catalyst for a more substantial critical research history 
in time future (Hood 1 998b). Consequently, I have re- 
formulated the conclusion of the 1 993 paper into an 
epilogue anno 2001 , with a commentary directed to- 
ward the current theoretical status of archaeology. Thus, 
the temporal convolutions of T. S. Elliot seem even 
more appropriate than before. 

Looking at Ourselves (Part 1) 

"Arctic research by its nature tends to be isolative." 
(Maxwell 1 976b:preface) 

Compared with many other parts of the world, 
systematic archaeological research in the Eastern Arc- 
tic and Subarctic is relatively young. The research fra- 
ternity has been fairly small (and it has indeed been 
mainly a fraternity). In 1 973, eight people participated 

in the School for American Research (SAR) seminar on 
Eastern Arctic prehistory (Maxwell 1 976c). Over the 
last twenty years our numbers have increased consid- 
erably; the invitation list for the 1993 Elders Confer- 
ence at Dartmouth College contained the names of 
about fifty archaeologists, most of whom have ties to 
the Eastern Arctic or Subarctic. This demographic ex- 
pansion has occurred on both the Canadian and 
Greenlandic sides of the Davis Strait. 

As the demographic scale of a research commu- 
nity increases, so too does the mathematical likelihood 
for the development and dissemination of new ideas, 
facilitated by complex networks of interpersonal in- 
teractions and intergenerational debate. Curiously, 
though, the "subculture" of eastern arctic/subarctic ar- 
chaeology has maintained an equilibrium in the face of 
changes in its surrounding theoretical environment. 
This is not to say that our subculture has been imper- 
vious to influence or change, but that our social 
boundaries have not been characterized by a high 
degree of conceptual permeability. It is this limited 


permeability that is the subject of my commentary. 
The now three-decades-old debate over the merits of 
the once "new" or "processual" archaeology popped 
through a few breathing holes with a relatively mod- 
est and belated impact on our field, and the decade- 
old wrangling between processual and postprocessual 
archaeology has barely echoed off the ice floes. Some 
of the reasons for, and alternatives to, this state of 
affairs should be addressed as part of the historical 
retrospective and future prospectus that are integral 
to this volume. 

The condition of restricted conceptual permeabil- 
ity is partly related to the social structure and history 
of our research community (cf. Crane 1 972; Hagendijk 
1990; Mullins 1973). Among the contributing factors 
are the limited number of institutions training graduate 
students and the recruiting patterns of these institu- 
tions. A quick perusal of the academic backgrounds 
of archaeologists working in the Eastern and Central 
Arctic and Subarctic indicates that four institutions have 
produced at least 50 percent of the Ph.Ds or equiva- 
lent: Calgary, Alberta, Michigan State, and Copenhagen. 
Moreover, certain other institutions have played im- 
portant "feeder" roles for Ph.D. schools, providing B.A. 
and M.A. training for those continuing on to the doc- 
torate, for example, Elmer Harp's program at Dartmouth 
and the Memorial University of Newfoundland. I do 
not mean to imply that these eminent institutions pro- 
duce academic clones, but as instruments of encultur- 
ation they tend to produce students with common 
outlooks. Furthermore, if there is a high degree of inter- 
action between these few institutions, then a system 
of more-or-less shared values is nurtured within a gen- 
eration or age cohort. At the intergenerational level, 
Ph.Ds from "school 1" become teachers at "school 2" 
where the outlook of "school 1 " is transmitted indi- 
rectly to a younger generation of students who, ironi- 
cally, may then go to "school 1 " for graduate work 
and receive directly a second layer of "school 1 " ideas. 

Of course, the eastern arctic/subarctic network 
is not a seamless web of common discourse. For 

obvious linguistic and cultural reasons, the research 
circles developed at Copenhagen and the University 
of Quebec at Montreal have diverged substantially from 
the conceptual and methodological framework com- 
mon to the anglophone Canadian and American re- 
search communities. Nevertheless, both of these 
circles perform enculturation functions for their mi- 
lieus similar to the main centers of the anglophone 
world and have the same implications for concep- 
tual impermeability. 

The insular nature of our research communities is 
reinforced by practical necessity. Aspirants learn from 
their elders how to cope with the unique hazards of 
northern research. Furthermore, until recently (i.e., Max- 
well 1985), essential knowledge was often transmit- 
ted as oral folklore rather than in a more widely acces- 
sible and synthetic written form. Consequently, arctic/ 
subarctic fieldwork has perhaps been more depen- 
dent on apprenticeship to an experienced researcher 
than would be the case in other parts of North America. 
This results in "mentored" research circles that function 
as strong enculturation units, even when apprentices 
are recruited from outside the circle or the subculture. 
I need go no further than to cite my own initiation into 
northern research within William Fitzhugh's Labrador 
archaeology family. 

The social structure I have described may be 
marked by relatively closed systems of discourse and 
subtle power relations in which the research programs 
are driven by a limited number of individuals. Certain 
questions are judged to be worthy or unworthy of 
research, one interpretive framework is favored over 
another, and appropriate linguistic conventions are 
defined (cf. Foucault 1971; Kuhn 1970). The puzzle- 
solving agenda of "normal science" is set. While ques- 
tions concerning the power and control of the agenda- 
setters are central to sociological analysis, I do not 
wish to impute Machiavellian intents. Instead, I prefer 
to emphasize the important unintended consequences 
that this community structure may have for narrowing 
the scope of the prevailing discourse. 



Perhaps the situation as I have represented it is 
merely a historical artifact of the relatively young and 
undeveloped nature of the northern research commu- 
nity. Sociological analyses of other academic fields in- 
dicates that there may be "natural" stages in the life 
histories of research communities, each with its own 
consequences for innovation and the dissemination of 
ideas (Crane 1 972). Maybe we should simply attribute 
our circumstances to the infancy of our field, carry on 
as usual, and let "nature" take its developmental course. 
Perhaps. But all research communities are actively con- 
structed by intellectual agents who act to either main- 
tain or change structures of discourse. Passive laissez- 
faire strategies tend to reinforce the status quo, and 
thus opportunities to open new doors and explore 
new passages may be missed. 

For a successful adaptation to our future research 
environment, I think we need to break this stable equi- 
librium mode— a low-risk intellectual strategy— and 
engage in a modest adaptive radiation into new intel- 
lectual niches, some of which may seem, at first glance, 
to be dangerous habitats underlain by thin conceptual 
ice. In other words, perhaps our adaptive strategies 

19. 1/ Attendees to the SAR seminar were [rear, L-R] Albert Dekin, Will- 
iam Kemp, William Fitzhugh, Father Mary-Rousseliere, Robert McChee, 
Ronald Nash, [front, L-R] James Tuck, Moreau Maxwell, Elmer Harp, and 
William E. Taylor. 

should become more generalist, theoretically speak- 
ing. I will make some suggestions for accomplishing 
this goal, but will begin with a respectful consider- 
ation of what I regard as the limitations embedded in 
the wisdom of my elders. 

Looking Backward 

Critiques of the status quo have an unfortunate ten- 
dency to engage in the rhetorically expedient strat- 
egy of tarring their opponents with the same brush. 
They often make it appear as if there is a homogeneity 
of opinion— a normative consensus— in the school they 
are attacking, despite the fact that this rarely exists to 
the extent that is implied. I do not wish to create straw 
people here, but a degree of gentle stereotyping is 
perhaps inevitable. It is difficult to divide any segment 
of archaeology into developmental stages without 
imposing artificial boundaries on ideas. It is even more 
difficult in northern archaeology, given the tenacity of 
traditional approaches into the present. Nonetheless, 
for the sake of expediency I will do so. 

Until about 1 970, the construction of culture-his- 
tory was the primary goal of northern archaeologists 
(although it is obviously still the ma- 
jor goal today). This is hardly surpris- 
ing given the prevailing intellectual 
currents and the lack of basic culture 
sequences from most parts of our re- 
search domain. Unapologetic culture- 
history was quite appropriate. When 
Elmer Harp's offspring entered the 
picture in the late 1 960s, culture-his- 
tory was conjoined with a concep- 
tual structure based on Steward s 
(1955) cultural ecology. There was 
an oblique rapprochement with the 
"new" archaeology, best exemplified 
by the SAR seminar (Maxwell 1 976c), 
in which we see the influence of sys- 
tems theory and quantitative analy- 
sis (fig. 1 9.1 ). 


24 1 

But the element of processual archaeology that 
seemed to stick best was ecological determinism. This 
was welded into a tentative alliance with a culture- 
historical approach that processualists would consider 
to be highly "normative.'' Given the social context of 
the time, with the emergence of the environmental 
movement, it is not surprising that a concern with the 
relationship between culture change and climate 
change became primary (Barry et al. 1 977; Dekin 1 972; 
Fitzhugh 1972b, 1977b; McGhee 1972a; Trigger 
1 989:31 9-320). Of course, this concern was not strictly 
paradigmatic or sociologically driven, since climatic 
elements constantly and often unpleasantly impinge 
upon the awareness of field archaeologists in the north. 

The alliance between normative culture-history and 
ecological determinism has dominated northern archae- 
ology up to the present time. The result is an archaeol- 
ogy that understands cultural variability in largely func- 
tionalist technoeconomic terms or in a historical par- 
ticularist framework as shared norms of behavior, or in 
an eclectic combination of both. Culture is either an 
epiphenomenon of adaptation or a superorganic en- 
tity explicable in terms of itself or of random historical 
events (e.g., McGhee 1976b:39, 1982b:74, 1983:23). 

Nonetheless, there have occasionally been some 
alternative voices. Schindler (1 985) launched an unap- 
preciated critique of normative thinking, while Bielawski 
(1 988:71 -72) encouraged the exploration of new per- 
spectives. Fitzhugh and Lamb (1985) backed away 
from the previously tight climate change/culture change 
models postulated for Labrador (e.g., Fitzhugh 1 972b, 
1977b). Jordan (1978) and Kaplan (1983, 1985) ap- 
plied socioeconomic models to contact-period Labra- 
dor Inuit society, and Nagle (1 984) used an economiz- 
ing model to interpret Dorset lithic procurement and 
exchange in Labrador. Taylor (1967a) and Swinton 
(1 967) planted the seeds for social and symbolic inter- 
pretations in their discussion of Dorset art and sha- 
manism, and this was taken up in several subsequent 
papers (e.g., Fitzhugh 1985c; McGhee 1977; Plumet 
1 989a; Tacon 1 983). Binfordian middle-range theory 

and optimal foraging models have colonized our do- 
main (Savelle 1 984, 1 987; Savelle and McCartney 1 988; 
Stenton and Park 1994), and these seem to be easily 
assimilated into the prevailing conceptual framework. 
As far as the current archaeological preoccupation with 
middle-range theory is concerned, it is certainly impor- 
tant to acquire a better understanding of the forma- 
tion of the arctic/subarctic archaeological record, but 
we cannot restrict ourselves to the adaptive causal 
factors that dominate this approach. Archaeological 
site formation is just as much a consequence of social 
variables as it is of technoeconomic variables (cf. Binford 
1980 and Hodder 1982). 

Indeed, what is most conspicuous in its absence 
from northern archaeology is a sense of social process 
(but see Fitzhugh 1 984b; Grier and Savelle 1 994; Nagle 
1 984). In calling for a pluralization of eastern arctic/ 
subarctic archaeology, I am first and foremost advo- 
cating the development of a social archaeology for the 
north. This would respond to Elmer Harp's criticism of 
attempts to apply the "new" archaeology program to 
the Arctic and his preference for an archaeology of 
human communities: 

[T]o the extent that we think solely in such 
statistical and materialistic terms, the 
fundamental human nature of our quest may 
be diminished, if not lost altogether. ... In 
the same vein, archaeology's current fascina- 
tion with systems theory is also somewhat 
antisocial insofar as it obfuscates humanistic 
values. ... As archaeological taxa, cultures 
can also be usefully treated as systems. 
However, the burgeoning adoption of this 
term "system" seems to imply a teleological 
sense of sociocultural purpose and integra- 
tion which is by no means inherent in most 
human affairs. Individual drives still motivate 
most human behavior, albeit this behavior is 
fundamentally conditioned by cultural norms, 
but in few societies do we find a degree of 
sophistication which can fully comprehend 
the intertwining networks of social, cultural, 
and ecological relationships and conceptual- 
ize them in terms of systems theory. . . . 
Therefore, I plan to operate on a level below 
such systems, and, given our limited means 
of remote sensing, aim for a view of commu- 
nities and people. (Harp 1 976a: 1 1 9) 



Looking Forward 

One option for building a social archaeology is to ex- 
plore some of the ideas expounded by so-called 
postprocessual archaeologists (e.g., Hodder 1985, 
1986; Shanks and Tilley 1987a, 1987b). In order to 
avoid the now tired and frequently unpleasant polem- 
ics of this debate, I will sidestep critique and accentu- 
ate the positive benefits of rethinking our research 
domain in these terms. To my mind, one of the most 
important potential impacts of postprocessual per- 
spectives on northern archaeology is in reorienting our 
concepts of culture. Rather than viewing culture as an 
adaptive mechanism or as shared ideas— cultural frame- 
works in which people are either passive adaptive au- 
tomatons or clones of shared normative mental tem- 
plates—cultural behavior is viewed in terms of social 
strategies played out through the reciprocal relation- 
ship between agency and structure. My perspective 
adopts the structuration theory of Anthony Giddens 
(1979, 1984). 1 

For Giddens, "structures" consist of rules and re- 
sources. Social behavior is rule-governed, although not 
in the sense of normative behavior. Rule following may 
be situationally contingent, generating variable rather 
than standardized behavior. On some occasions, hu- 
mans may violate the rules or manipulate them in their 
own self-interest. On other occasions, their actions may 
adhere more closely to cultural norms. Resources con- 
sist of material, social, and symbolic elements. By ma- 
terial resources I mean technology and subsistence 
items; social resources include kinship relations and 
labor organization; and symbolic resources are com- 
prised of material symbols and ideological elements. 

Humans engage in intentional social strategies 
within a framework of cultural meanings given by the 
rule system. The scope of these strategies is con- 
strained by structures, but structures can only be re- 
produced or transformed through human action. Some- 
times structures place strong limitations on the range 
of actions, while in other cases the arrangement of 
structures provides windows of opportunity for the 

implementation of novel strategies. In the case of north- 
ern societies, for example, we must acknowledge that 
material resource structures may impose powerful con- 
straints on action. Nevertheless, in some situations the 
manipulation of different combinations of material, so- 
cial, and symbolic resources provide opportunities for 
the development of new strategies and structures. 

I think that an approach that treats social action as 
patterned, but historically contingent, can help us bal- 
ance the reality of material constraints with the need 
to explore the generative role of agency, social struc- 
ture, and ideology. This approach can partially accom- 
modate the calls for historical particularism (e.g., 
McGhee 1982b:79) while avoiding excessive relativ- 
ism by situating historically contingent action within: 
(1) economic structures that exhibit at least limited 
cross-cultural consistencies, and (2) social and ideo- 
logical structures that reproduce local historical tradi- 
tions. Consequently, moderate forms of postprocessual 
archaeology are less antithetical to some aspects of 
traditional northern archaeology than are the more 
extreme elements of Binfordian processualism. 

A corollary of the concern for social strategy is the 
recognition of power relationships. It is not so much 
that power struggles are a "universal" feature of social 
life, but that relations of autonomy/dependence are; 
these relations constitute the dialectic of control in a 
society (Giddens 1979:6, 88-93, 149). The question 
is, How do domination/resistance relationships arise 
within this dialectic and how do these relationships 
lead to inequalities in access to material, social, and 
symbolic resources (cf. McGuire and Paynter 1991)? 
Structuration theory thus provides a useful framework 
for conceptualizing the emergence of, and resistance 
to, social hierarchy. An important locus in the negotia- 
tion of social power is the construction of gender rela- 
tions (Gero and Conkey 1991). Aside from some dis- 
cussion of male and female work areas (McGhee 
1979:52-55), northern archaeology has yet to be en- 
gendered (but see Cabak 1 991 , Gullason 1 999). Structur- 
ation concepts may contribute to doing this. 


24 3 

There is no reason why the processes discussed 
above could not operate and be identifiable in some 
contexts studied by northern archaeologists. Although 
material resources may often be hard to accumulate 
and control in unpredictable arctic/subarctic environ- 
ments, social and symbolic resources— involving much 
contrived behavior with material culture— may turn out 
to be a primary vehicle for the playing out of power 
relationships (e.g., Dorset shamanism and art produc- 
tion). Thinking about culture in this manner may aid us 
in perceiving differences between the ethnographic 
present and the past rather than in continually repro- 
ducing ethnography in prehistory (Wobst 1 978). 

The practical archaeological implication of post- 
processual approaches is that the material culture ex- 
cavated by the archaeologist cannot be viewed as a 
direct reflection of behavior. Social strategies may use 
material culture ideologically to misrepresent rather than 
mirror social relations (Hodder 1 986:2-3, 61 -70; Miller 
and Tilley 1984:13-14). Furthermore, material cul- 
ture can be used to create or channel social action. 
Material culture, therefore, constitutes a signification 
system that communicates meaning in complex ways. 
Whether or not it can usefully be characterized as a 
"text," material culture does exhibit text-like proper- 
ties in the sense that, as a sign system, it is subject to 
multiple interpretations by different "readers," includ- 
ing those from the past as well as those from the present 
and the future. A more pluralistic archaeology would 
provide space for exploring these alternative view- 

The call for pluralism should not, however, be taken 
as an endorsement of unrestricted relativism. Postpro- 
cessual archaeologists take ambiguous stands on how 
interpretations can be evaluated. Many postprocess- 
ualists regard pattern recognition and the assignment 
of meaning to patterns as largely theoretically prede- 
termined, and they proceed by intertwining data and 
interpretation in a repeated hermeneutic spiraling (e.g., 
Hodder 1991). Despite remarks that ". . . data repre- 
sents a network of resistances to theoretical appro- 

priation" (Shanks and Tilley 1 987a:l 04), postprocess- 
ualists provide few methods or strategies for evaluat- 
ing the accommodative fit of interpretations or for re- 
ducing error. Curiously absent from this process is the 
crucial inferential step of understanding archaeologi- 
cal material as an archaeological record from which be- 
havioral patterns must reliably be inferred prior to any 
interpretation of cultural meaning. This step involves 
so-called middle-range theory. Although I do not ac- 
cept the thrust of his program, I must agree with Binford 
(1981, 1982) that without an understanding of how 
the archaeological record was formed we cannot ad- 
equately describe or identify the meaning of observed 
patterns. Consequently, without some form of middle- 
range theory we have no grounds for determining the 
extent or reliability of model accommodation, whether 
our interpretive frameworks are adaptationist and posi- 
tivist, or Marxist, (post) structuralist, and hermeneutic 
(see also Saitta 1 992). 

From Theory to Practice 

How do these esoteric notions relate to the actual 
practice of northern archaeology? All I can hope to do 
here is point to a few areas where this approach might 
make a difference when interpretations are being 
constructed. In doing so, I will temporarily bracket off 
the middle-range epistemological questions noted 

The only past context in which we can actually 
see agency/structure in operation (or at least have 
reliable grounds for inferring elements thereof) is in 
historical archaeology. A useful illustration is 
eighteenth-century Labrador Inuit society (Jordan 
1978; Kaplan 1983, 1985; Taylor 1974, 1976). The 
Labrador Inuit communal house leader, or "big-man," 
created and sustained his position by manipulating 
a range of material, social, and symbolic resources. 
His ability to attract a large coresidential group of 
followers and acquire multiple spouses increased his 
household's productive potential. The leader's control 
over access to, and distribution of, European goods 



represented a source of power within the settlement 
and possibly beyond. Some leaders and their spouses 
were also shamans (Taylor 1989), thus giving them 
control of another position based on material and 
social relationships that could potentially be reinforced 
by the manipulation of symbolic resources. There is 
some debate as to whether these processes were 
marked by significant changes in Labrador Inuit value 
systems towards European concepts of private 
property or whether the processes involved the 
intensification of traditional social relations (Richling 
1 993). Either reading gives us at least a superficial 
glimpse into Labrador Inuit social strategies. Historical 
scholarship can also provide us with fragmentary 
biographical insights into the careers of significant 
eighteenth-century Inuit figures, such as Tuglavina, 
a prominent Inuit leader and trader, and his one-time 
wife Mikak (Taylor 1979, 1983-1984). Besides 
modeling Inuit socioeconomic strategies during the 
contact period, such information can also provide 
insights into gender relations and the agency of Inuit 
women (Cabak 1991). 

The treatment of Labrador Inuit leaders and other 
community members as social agents does not imply 
methodological individualism. Rather, their agency must 
be seen as embedded in a range of broader structures, 
including Inuit kinship and ideological systems and 
economic and ideological relationships with Moravian 
missionaries and European fur traders. European groups 
were also composed of agents operating within their 
own structures, which embodied constraints and op- 
portunities that were different from those enveloping 
the Inuit. Kaplan's (1 983:339-375) description por- 
trays these conflicting interests and agendas well, al- 
though the implications of the intersecting power re- 
lationships are not fully explored. This angle is taken 
up more overtly in Loring's (1 998) research on different 
Labrador Inuit responses to the Moravian missionar- 
ies— specifically, the strategies of resistance employed 
by some Inuit groups in the face of European domi- 

In prehistoric research, we face the obvious prob- 
lem that structuration processes are not directly vis- 
ible in the archaeological record and can only be 
inferred analogically. However, this apparent invisibil- 
ity should not lead us to the conclusion that social 
strategies can be ignored in prehistory. In the fol- 
lowing paragraphs, I show how the structuration 
framework can provide useful interpretive insights for 
a specific prehistoric context: the Maritime Archaic of 

Lithic Procurement in the Labrador Maritime Archaic 

The Maritime Archaic Indians inhabited the central and 
northern coasts of Labrador from at least 7500-3500 
B.P. Their initial notoriety among archaeologists was 
based on their maritime adaptation, mortuary ceremo- 
nialism, and long distance trade systems involving 
Ramah chert (Fitzhugh 1975, 1978a; Tuck 1976a). 
During the 1 980s, Smithsonian researchers revealed 
a developmental trend in Maritime Archaic commu- 
nity patterns. Prior to 6000 B.P., these Indians used small 
single-family pit houses, sometimes arranged in groups 
of two or three. After this time, the pattern shifted 
toward increasingly larger rectangular dwellings seg- 
mented into individual household compartments. 
This trend culminated between 4000 and 3500 B.P. 
when segmented longhouses ranged up to 80 meters 
in length and probably accommodated seasonal ag- 
gregates of 50 to 1 00 people. All these elements sug- 
gest a culture that was developing increasingly "com- 
plex" social practices (Fitzhugh 1984b, 1985c; Hood 

Many of the inferences concerning Maritime Ar- 
chaic social relations have been derived from promi- 
nent features such as houses and burials. But we can 
also tap the interpretive potential of more mundane 
aspects of material culture, such as the organization 
of lithic procurement. A key element of Maritime Ar- 
chaic lithic technology was the material known as 
Ramah chert. The chert was available only at the ex- 
treme periphery of the Maritime Archaic world in Ramah 


24 5 

Bay and adjacent bays in northernmost Labrador 
(Gramly 1 978; Lazenby 1 980). This inconvenient posi- 
tioning required new organizational arrangements to 
procure and distribute the material among Maritime 
Archaic groups, which were spread across at least 600 
kilometers of the northern and central coasts. Chang- 
ing patterns of Ramah chert and local raw material 
usage may therefore point to significant transforma- 
tions in Maritime Archaic social relations. 

The earliest Maritime Archaic sites (ca. 7500 B.P.) 
at Hamilton Inlet on the central coast contain high 
frequencies of local quartzites and no Ramah chert. 
From 6000-5000 B.P., these sites exhibit a great 
quantity of local vein quartz, with lesser amounts of 
slate and local quartzite. They contain a small amount 
of Ramah chert debitage and varying percentages 
of finished tools made from Ramah chert. Sometimes 
projectile points were fashioned from purple cherts 
thought to derive from interior sources (Fitzhugh 
1972b, 1975, 1978a; Lazenby 1984). 

Further north in the Nain region, sites predating 6000 
B.P. contain bifaces of local quartz and Ramah chert, 
abundant quartz debitage, and a minimal amount of 
Ramah chert debitage. Later sites (6000-5000 B.P.) ex- 
hibit a variety of materials. Local quartz predominates 
in the debitage and was used for bifaces, scrapers, 
and bipolar cores, while Ramah chert was frequently 
employed for bifaces and often comprises up to half 
the debitage (Fitzhugh 1978a; Lazenby 1984). Non- 
local chert from the Cape Mugford area to the north 
was often used for endscrapers and slates were em- 
ployed for ground stone implements such as projec- 
tile points and celts. Overall, Ramah chert use seems 
to increase between 5000 and 4000 B.P. 

For the early-middle Maritime Archaic, I suggest 
that two technological systems for organizing lithic 
procurement and use operated simultaneously: (1) 
an opportunistic system for acquiring local poor- 
quality raw materials (quartz, quartzites), which were 
used primarily for expedient activities (e.g., simple flake 
tools), and (2) a more structured system for procuring 

nonlocal high-quality materials (cherts, slates), which 
were used for a limited range of specialized formal 
tools (e.g., projectile points, endscrapers, celts). 
Paralleling these technological organization systems 
were two social strategies for raw material use: (1) an 
opportunistic local procurement system that promoted 
high individual autonomy'm lithic resource acquisition, 
and (2) a more structured system for procuring nonlocal 
materials that implied potential dependency relations 
on distant others if the materials were acquired 
through exchange. It follows from this contrast that 
social strategy (1) may have permitted individuals 
to resist the dependency relationships embedded 
in strategy (2). 

During the late Maritime Archaic (4000-3500 B.P.) 
this picture changes dramatically. Ramah chert be- 
comes highly abundant and is used almost exclusively 
for flaked stone tools, even at Hamilton Inlet, which is 
600 kilometers south of the Ramah chert sources 
(Fitzhugh 1972b, 1975, 1978a; Lazenby 1984). Local 
raw materials are of minimal significance. This pattern 
indicates the large-scale transportation of prodigious 
amounts of Ramah chert. There are two alternative 
delivery systems, each with different social conse- 
quences: exchange and direct procurement. 

If large quantities of Ramah chert were acquired 
through long-distance exchange systems, this situa- 
tion might imply the emergence of strong interper- 
sonal and/or intergroup dependency relations. Local 
raw materials were available but were not used to any 
great extent, so the procurement autonomy option 
pursued in earlier times was no longer implemented. 
This high degree of dependency on Ramah chert was 
not technologically determined but socially contrived. 
I suggest that the value of Ramah chert was largely 
ideological and that the negotiation of social relations 
and the construction of social identity in the late Mari- 
time Archaic was bound up with participation in lithic 
exchange systems and their associated rituals. This 
process may have been linked to the emergence of 
status competition between individuals at longhouse 



aggregation sites and the maintenance of alliance 
systems between regional groups positioned along 
a linear coastal social network. 

An interesting component of these changes in lithic 
procurement systems and social strategies is their 
possible connection with the structuring of gender 
relations. Gero (1991) observes that the linkages 
between gender and lithic procurement and pro- 
duction systems are bound to be highly variable. 
Nevertheless, she suggests that we might at "mini- 
mum" monitor women's involvement in lithic technol- 
ogy via the use of local raw materials and expedient 
tools found in domestic contexts (Gero 1991 :1 76, 1 80). 
During the early-middle phases of the Maritime Ar- 
chaic, it is these local materials (quartz, quartzite) 
and expedient tools (utilized flakes) that predomi- 
nate in the assemblages. The nonlocal materials 
(Ramah and other cherts) are associated with curated 
tools, such as projectile points, which may (or may 
not) be associated with men's labor "in the field," and 
with endscrapers, which may (or may not) be associ- 
ated with women's domestic labor. In any event, there 
is a strong distinction between domestic activities/ 
local raw materials/expedient tools and "field" activi- 
ties/non-local raw materials/formal curated tools. This 
may imply some gender-linked differences in raw 
material use. 2 

During the late Maritime Archaic, both domestic 
and "field" activities were permeated by the use of 
Ramah chert. This merging of activity realms within a 
single raw material system could imply a shift in how 
lithics articulated with the construction and mainte- 
nance of gender relations. Specifically, it may point to 
a broader distribution between men and women of a 
socially valued material and a closer linkage between 
the negotiation of gender relations and the social and 
ideological components of Ramah chert exchange. 
Although this vague proposition requires further elabo- 
ration, it highlights the possibilities for the creative use 
of seemingly mundane material culture to explore so- 
cial processes. 

The second Ramah chert acquisition strategy is 
direct procurement. Fitzhugh (1 98 5b: 50) suggests that 
a large, late Maritime Archaic settlement in northern 
Labrador with as many as twenty-seven longhouses 
may have been a repeatedly inhabited, seasonal 
staging camp used for the direct procurement of 
Ramah chert. Entire central coast groups may have 
relocated to this camp north of the tree line for brief 
summer chert provisioning forays and caribou hunting. 
An interesting implication of this "expedition" model 
(pointed out to me by Fitzhugh) is that direct procure- 
ment could be seen as a social strategy to resist 
the dependency relations involved in long- distance 
exchange networks. This resistance would operate 
at the level of group autonomy through mobility 
strategies rather than through individual autonomy 
in procuring local materials. 

So cial Construction of Space in the Labrador 
Maritime Archaic 

Another area where a structuration approach may 
provide insights is the social construction of space. 
The spatial relations of northern hunter-gatherers are 
generally seen as determined by environmental and 
subsistence variables. But landscapes are also cultur- 
ally constructed, imbued with symbolic significance 
by ideological structures (Hood 1 988). In the Labrador 
Maritime Archaic the social construction of space can 
be theorized on two levels: regional and intrasite. 

At the regional level, it is interesting to note that 
despite the presumed seasonal mobility of Maritime 
Archaic groups, much of their ritual activity seems to 
be aimed at contriving "place." By this I mean they 
established and legitimated group claims to particular 
places by modifying them with visible material culture 
(longhouses, burial mounds, cemeteries). These places 
were then connected by constructing marriage, ex- 
change, and other alliances over space. There is a ten- 
sion here between the seasonal mobility required 
by strong environmental constraints on subsistence 
procurement and the definition of more localized 



social and ideological landscapes that may have 
helped anchor emerging corporate group identities 
(as suggested by longhouse coresidential units). The 
intensive seasonal investment of energy and symbol- 
ism in the built environment of particular places coun- 
teracted the mobility constraints and sustained the 
complexity processes that otherwise tend to be asso- 
ciated with sedentism. This is interesting since 
sedentism is often seen as a prerequisite or a critical 
concomitant of social complexity (Price and Brown 
1985:11). During the late Maritime Archaic, these 
place-making processes may also have been related 
to the social dynamics of Maritime Archaic and Pre- 
Dorset boundary relations (Fitzhugh 1 984b; Hood 

At the intrasite level, longhouses may be seen as 
both "reflecting" Maritime Archaic social structure and 
as a vital element in creating that structure. I suggest 
that the spatial logic of the longhouse conveyed an 
important social tension within Maritime Archaic soci- 
ety between the autonomy of individual household 
units and the collective organization of emergent cor- 
porate groups. Maritime Archaic subsistence required 
seasonal mobility, which would promote fissionary 
tendencies, flexible autonomous social units, and tem- 
porary settlements. The segmentation of longhouses 
into multiple compartments comprising individual 
household floors was a means of spatially encoding 
household autonomy. Yet these individual social mod- 
ules were incorporated into a larger collective unit 
by the overall structure of the dwelling. It was the 
longhouse structure as a whole that physically cre- 
ated a corporate unit and gave that unit a tempo- 
rary (seasonal) material existence through the organi- 
zation of domestic space. The longhouse also helped 
create an ideological fiction of collectivity in a social 
world that otherwise tended towards seasonal frag- 
mentation. Thus the structure of the material world 
helps produce and reproduce forms of social action 
and belief; material culture is not just a passive re- 
flection of social structure. 

These examples show how a structuration ap- 
proach can lead to new ways of looking at our data. 
They are tentative and incomplete. They also lack treat- 
ment of middle-range inference problems that are cru- 
cial to accurate description and identification of spa- 
tial patterning in longhouses, for example. But they do 
demonstrate that postprocessual approaches can pro- 
vide some meaningful direction to concrete research 

Looking at Ourselves (Part 2) 

The meaning of the past has to be inserted 
into the present through the medium of the 
text. So there is no meaning outside the text 
. . . The act of writing always presupposes a 
politics of the present, and such writing is a 
form of power. (Tilley 1 989b:l 93) 

One of the prominent jargon concepts in postpro- 
cessual archaeology is "text." One can debate whether 
or not the text metaphor has much utility for interpret- 
ing material culture in the archaeological record, but it 
does have another important implication. The text 
metaphor implies that archaeological interpretation 
occurs solely through the medium of writing— in other 
words, text production (Tilley 1989a, 1989b, 1990). 
Archaeological text production is embedded in the 
social relations of the discipline and in the discipline's 
encompassing sociocultural context. Thus all interpre- 
tation/writing is a product of the present (although 
postprocessualists vary in the degree to which they 
believe the past is independent of or constrains the 
text). Postprocessual archaeologists advocate greater 
critical consciousness in the writing process and the 
construction of archaeological texts that break with 
narrative convention. In other words, they propose a 
new aesthetics of archaeological text production. 

Part of this new aesthetics, and particularly impor- 
tant for the present sociopolitical context of northern 
archaeology, concerns the power effects of our texts 
(Tilley 1 989a, 1 989b, 1 990), specifically, who controls 
the construction/writing of archaeological texts? Who 
exerts authority over the form and content of our writ- 



ten representation of the past? To phrase this in terms 
of structuration processes, how does the dialectic of 
control work itself out in the modern world of relation- 
ships between archaeologists (writers/producers), their 
readers/consumers, and the objects of archaeological 
knowledge (aboriginal people and their heritage)? 

Up to this point, archaeological texts have been 
the product of "experts." Our texts consist of site re- 
ports and other technical documents incomprehen- 
sible to northern residents, both conceptually and lin- 
guistically (I include the present document in this cat- 
egory). Another means of pluralizing northern archae- 
ology would be to break the monopoly of the experts 
over archaeological text construction by inviting north- 
ern peoples to participate actively in the creation of 
texts. Their role would be transformed from objects of 
knowledge and passive readers of a past composed 
by others to active writers of their own past in forms/ 
genres of their own choosing as well as in their own 
languages. This will surely lead to conflicts with ar- 
chaeologists over the "correct" interpretation of the 
past, yet this is an unavoidable issue that has already 
generated rancor (McGhee 1 989). Resolution of the 
problem requires pragmatic negotiation of the distance 
between the meaning frames of archaeologists and 
those of aboriginal people (Anawak 1 989; Bielawski 
1 989), as well as acknowledgment of the history of 
unequal power relations between the two. 

Acceptance of joint authorship of the past may 
also contribute to the pluralization of northern archae- 
ology, not only by opening it up to previously subordi- 
nate voices (Hodder 1 991 :1 4-1 6), but also by chang- 
ing the social structure of our research community. 
Drawing First Nations people into the research com- 
munity as active writers/producers and through tech- 
nical training as field archaeologists (e.g., Andreasen 
1988:1 5-16; Bielawski 1989:232) will allow their 
agency to change the present structure of the archaeo- 
logical subculture, thereby transforming the social re- 
lations that generate the conceptual impermeability I 
noted at the outset. 

Epilogue 2001 

The skeptic is always playing on the fear that 
unless we achieve finality we have not 
achieved anything. (Bernstein 1983:69) 

The preceding commentary engaged in some limited 
sociohistorical reflections on the links between our 
archaeological generations and considered how the 
social structure of our subculture conditions continu- 
ities and discontinuities in our thought. It also empha- 
sized the consequences of our standpoint as archaeo- 
logical writers in the present for our representations of 
the past and for the future development of our re- 
search community. I suggested that some aspects of 
postprocessual archaeology could provide useful in- 
sights into both the interpretation of the past and the 
analysis and improvement of the present social con- 
text of northern archaeology. Pragmatic engagement 
with a range of ideas from outside the dominant con- 
ceptual framework could contribute to pluralizing east- 
ern arctic/subarctic archaeology. 

During the past decade, much of the impetus for 
change in northern archaeology has come from forg- 
ing new working relationships with aboriginal groups 
(e.g., Webster and Bennett 1 997). Field schools have 
been set up at Igloolik and Iqaluit (Stenton and Rigby 
1 995), and archaeological research initiatives have been 
sponsored by institutions such as the Avataq Cultural 
Institute in arctic Quebec, the Torngasok Cultural Cen- 
ter and the Innu Nation in Labrador (Loring 1 995), and 
local museums in Greenland. Aboriginal groups have 
co-managed the archaeological components of envi- 
ronmental impact projects (Hood 1 998a). Parks Canada 
sponsored an oral history and archaeology project with 
the community of Arviat that was aimed at incorpo- 
rating Inuit traditional knowledge (Henderson 1 997). 
Museums are also changing to meet the needs of north- 
ern First Nations (Issenman 1991). Finally, the estab- 
lishment of llisimatusarfik (the Greenland University) 
and the Greenland Research Center (SILA) at the Dan- 
ish National Museum (Gronnow 2000), as well as 
work toward establishing a University of the Arctic 



add important new dimensions to northern education 
and research. 

In recent years, steps have also been taken toward 
conceptual shifts that open space for a social archae- 
ology for the north. McGhee's (1996) popular book 
traverses many aspects of Paleoeskimo societies. In 
more explicitly theoretical work, much is couched in 
"processual-social" terms, focusing on the adaptive or 
economic aspects of societies: resource structure and 
territoriality in Dorset-Thule interaction (Friesen 2000); 
"accumulator" whaling captains and Thule organiza- 
tion of production (Grier 1 999); substantivist analysis 
of Inuit household economy (Henshaw 1999); scalar 
stress and the development of Thule social organiza- 
tion (Friesen 1 999); interpretation of the transition be- 
tween Pre-Dorset and Dorset as a shift between for- 
ager and collector organization related to either the 
accumulation of environmental knowledge (Nagy 
2000a) or communal walrus hunting (Murray 1999); 
and style, material exchange, and interaction in the 
Dorset (Odess 1 998). Other contributions reflect influ- 
ences from postprocessual archaeology, such as the 
application of practice theory to regional variation in 
the Newfoundland Dorset (Leblanc 2000) and the con- 
struction of social difference in Thule (Whitridge 1 999). 
Social interpretation of Dorset art continues and ex- 
tends the original shamanism-related framework 
(Arsenault et al. 1998; LeMoine et al. 1995; McGhee 
1996; Plumet 1997; Sutherland 1997; Tacon 1993). 
Park (1 998) provides a critical assessment of the meth- 
odological requisites for inferring Thule social organi- 
zation. These newer contributions reflect increasing 
diversity in theoretical and methodological frameworks 
and are signs of the hoped for pluralization of archaeo- 
logical discourse. 

One point in the preceding presentation that re- 
quires an epilogic comment is my tendency to frame 
the discussion in terms of the debate between pro- 
cessual and postprocessual archaeology. Although 
perhaps relevant in 1 993, that debate is now largely 
dead and little useful purpose is served by adhering to 

these polemical categories. Such paradigmatic posi- 
tioning tends to result in one or another form of "nor- 
mal science" thinking, cutting up knowledge into closed 
intellectual compartments, territories defended by their 
own theoretical identity politics. Instead, a pluralistic 
archaeology would regard knowledge as a complex 
landscape or network, with peaks or areas of high 
network density representing central tendencies in 
thought ("paradigms"), with many points of overlap 
and contact, but also areas of incongruence and con- 
tradiction. Rather than situating ourselves in the areas 
of central tendency (normal science), it behooves us to 
explore the peripheries and overlaps, since this is where 
much of the interesting conceptual development may 
occur (Galison and Stump 1 996). 

To use another analogy, that of the internet and 
the programming language Hypertext (Edwards 1994; 
Landow 1 997), we can enter the knowledge network 
in many different places, navigate links along routes of 
interest, disrespecting traditional paradigm boundaries 
and constructing knowledge as "local wholes" that 
do not require downloading entire paradigmatic for- 
mulas (cf. Barker 1998:29-31; Wylie 2000:231). For 
lack of a better term I would call this approach to 
pluralism "heterodox intertextual" archaeology— het- 
erodox in the sense of struggling against normal sci- 
ence and intertextual in that knowledge is seen as a 
complex network of interlinked texts rather than para- 
digm boxes. One of the key areas where such thinking 
needs to be applied is in breaking down the nature/ 
culture dualism (see Ingold 2000) that lies behind the 
processual/postprocessual opposition and many as- 
pects of arctic archaeology. But this is a challenge for 
another day. 

To conclude, pluralization means exploring diver- 
gent passages and opening new doors. A pluralized 
northern archaeology would embody multiple and 
probably conflicting perspectives, both theoretical and 
cultural. There would be no unified science, no com- 
mon set of goals, and few standardized methods. Ar- 
chaeological experts would relinquish some of their 

2 50 


present near-exclusive control over excavating and 
writing the northern past. Yet, contrary to appearances, 
this pluralization is not an abandonment of the field to 
hyperrelativism. It is a recognition that interpretation 
in northern archaeology is situated within a complex 
network of theoretical and social interests and that 
knowledge must be constructed as local wholes within 
that network. Even if many problems of social archae- 
ology prove to be empirically intractable, we should 
not fall prey to the skeptics' demand for interpretive 
finality. This would severely limit the scope of plural- 
ization and condemn northern archaeology to sit in 
perpetuity on the lowest rungs of the ladder of ar- 
chaeological inference. Nonetheless, we are still in need 
of much "basic research" on the culture-history of the 
north, as pioneered by Elmer Harp and other elders 
and near-elders. There is much that we do not know. 
Ambitious conceptual meanderings will remain un- 
grounded and perhaps irrelevant until more data are 
collected and transformed into useful evidence. But 
without ambitious conceptual schemes, our data can 
only whisper softly in the arctic night. 


1 . While I still view structuration theory as one 
of the best approaches to theorizing social action, I 
do not advocate slavish adherence to it. I append 
Giddens's own caveat. 

The concepts of structuration theory, as with 
any competing theoretical perspective, 
should for many research purposes be 
regarded as sensitizing devices, nothing 
more. That is to say, they may be useful for 
thinking about research problems and the 
interpretation of research results. But to 
suppose that being theoretically informed— 
which is the business of everyone working in 
the social sciences to some degree-means 
always operating with a welter of abstract 
concepts is as mischievous a doctrine as one 
which suggests that we can get along very 
well without ever using such concepts at all. 
(Giddens 1984:326-327) 

2. This interpretation verges on, but does not 
accept, the public/male and domestic/female dual- 
ism that is rejected by feminist anthropologists. I 
risk reproach for the sake of conveying the general 
point of engendering the past. 


2 5 1 

he 1 992- i crmitting "(crisis" in | astern 
Arctic Archaeology 


In the fall of 1 991 , the coauthors of this chapter 1 sub- 
mitted a research grant proposal to the Social Sci- 
ences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of 
Canada. In our submission, we outlined a three-year 
program of research into the Late Dorset (ca. 1 500- 
1000/500 B.P.) occupation of Little Cornwallis Island 
in the Canadian High Arctic (Helmer 1 989, 1 991 , 1 996). 
The archaeological goals of the project included a de- 
tailed culture-historical analysis of three large Late 
Dorset village sites comprising, between them, some 
248 discrete cultural features; an investigation of the 
inter- and intra-feature and site artefactual and faunal 
assemblage variability of the three sites; and a com- 
parative study of Late Paleoeskimo settlement mobil- 
ity strategies. Our proposal also included, as primary 
objectives, the training of graduate and undergradu- 
ate university students and northern residents and 
working toward improving community relations 
(Helmer and LeMoine 1 991 ). In particular reference to 
this latter concern, our proposal stated explicitly: 

Aboriginal Canadians are increasingly ex- 
pressing their general dissatisfaction with 
non-native "scientific" reconstructions of their 
past. Native groups are also demanding the 
right to interpret their traditional history as 
they perceive it. It is essential that Canadian 
archaeologists respond positively to this 
movement before we are ultimately denied 
the access to the archaeological record that 
we have taken for granted for so long. 

Happily, our grant submission was successful. On 
the downside, however, our predictions about the 
consequences of archaeology's collective failure to 

explicitly acknowledge indigenous concerns about the 
practice of archaeology in the Far North were to prove 
far more accurate than even the most pessimistic 
among us had reason to expect. In early June 1 992, a 
mere two weeks before we were scheduled to ship 
our supplies and equipment north for the upcoming 
field season, we were informed that the Hamlet of Reso- 
lute Bay Council had denied approval of our excava- 
tion permit. 

In this chapter, we will describe in greater detail 
our "permit crisis" during the summer of 1 992 and the 
impact it had on our work in that and subsequent field 
seasons. We will articulate some of the perceptual dif- 
ficulties that we, as practicing archaeologists, currently 
face in the North, and summarize what we perceive to 
be some of the implications this situation has for fu- 
ture archaeological research in this region. 

The Permit Crisis 

The permitting process in place in the Northwest 
Territories in 1 992 required that we submit a permit 
application, including a one-page, plain English sum- 
mary of our proposed research, to the Prince of Wales 

2 5 3 

Northern Heritage Center. From there, applications were 
forwarded to the appropriate local communities— in 
our case, the Hamlet of Resolute Bay on Cornwallis 
Island. Applications had to be approved at both levels 
in order for a permit to be issued. 

Our original plans for fostering greater community 
involvement in local archaeological research were 
spelled out clearly in our research proposal. We 
specified that we would offer a college-level credit 
course in archaeological field techniques to eligible 
Northern students, conduct a series of illustrated pub- 
lic lectures to the community of Resolute Bay, orga- 
nize a mid-season visit to Little Cornwallis Island by 
members of the hamlet council and community el- 
ders to discuss work in progress, and prepare a mu- 
seum kit summarizing the results of our investiga- 
tion of the Late Dorset settlements on Little Cornwallis 
Island that would be kept in Resolute Bay. By actively 
pursuing these objectives we hoped to establish a 
working relationship with the community and raise 
people's awareness and understanding of the aims 
and objectives of the discipline of archaeology (Hel- 
mer and LeMoine 1 991 ). 

The "Unfolding" of the 1 992 Season 

We began implementing our planned strategy (perhaps 
rather optimistically) a month prior to the 1 992 SSHRC 
adjudication meetings. Toward the end of February, 
we began advertising our proposed field course in ar- 
chaeological techniques by sending notices to vari- 
ous Arctic College campuses and selected communi- 
ties throughout the Northwest Territories, including 
Resolute Bay (this aspect of the project was funded 
by a University of Calgary Special Sessions Innovation 
Fund). On April 1 , 1 992, we learned that we had been 
awarded our grant. We contacted the Resolute Bay 
Settlement Office by telephone shortly thereafter to 
inform them that our project had sufficient funds to 
proceed and to inquire about any potential commu- 
nity field school applicants who would be interested 
in working with us. 

One very positive outcome of this initial exchange 
was a verbal agreement, reached with the Settle- 
ment Administrator, to co-submit an application to 
the Access to Archaeology program (Communications 
Canada) seeking funds with which to augment com- 
munity involvement in our project. 2 Subsequently, we 
prepared a draft proposal and sent it to the Resolute 
Bay Hamlet Council for its approval on April 1 0, 1 992. 
Although the council meeting at which our proposal 
was to be discussed was canceled, the Settlement 
Administrator personally contacted council members 
to obtain their approval. We were informed, in a letter 
dated April 27, 1992, that our proposal had been ap- 
proved by a majority of the council, signed by Mayor 
George Eckalook, and forwarded to the Communica- 
tions Canada Office in Winnipeg. 

Up to this point, our efforts to promote commu- 
nity involvement in our research program appeared 
to be progressing smoothly. On May 10, 1992, we 
submitted an application for an archaeological per- 
mit to the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Center 
in Yellowknife. This is when things began to unravel 
for us. 

During the first week of June, we received our first 
notice that formal approval of our permit application 
had been denied by the Resolute Bay Hamlet Council. 
All other archaeologists planning to do fieldwork in 
the Resolute Bay area during the summer of 1 992, we 
were informed, had received similar notices. No formal 
explanation as to why our application was being con- 
tested at this late date was forthcoming. 

Understandably, this news caused us a great deal 
of consternation. Our immediate response was to ar- 
range a face-to-face meeting with council members 
to discuss our project and to determine a possible 
resolution of their concerns. Toward this end, one of 
us (LeMoine) flew to Resolute Bay early in the second 
week of June to make a formal slide presentation to 
the council and to outline, more fully, our proposed 
research program. In making this trip, we hoped to 
identify and respond to the council's specific concerns. 

2 54 


97° W 


96° W 

scale = 10 km 

20. 1/ Map indicating site locations on Little Cornwallis Island 

We also hoped, of course, to obtain its permission to 
proceed with our excavation plans. 

LeMoine's trip was only partially successful. As a 
result of her efforts, we learned that council members 
were generally in favor of specific elements of our pro- 
posed program and that they were willing to grant us 
permission to do surface assessments of the archaeo- 
logical sites in our study areas (but not to collect). We 
also learned that they had some practical concerns 
about the way archaeological research had been con- 
ducted in the central High Arctic in the past. 

Although we did not obtain permission to go ahead 
with our planned excavations, we resolved to go into 
the field at the end of June to pursue as many of our 
original archaeological research objectives as possible 

(Helmer et al. 1993; LeMoine et al. 
1 993). At this point, we had not al- 
together abandoned hope of ob- 
taining belated permission to exca- 
vate, but we developed a revised 
research plan that involved detailed 
surface examination and mapping 
of the sites, and recording, catalog- 
ing, and photographing objects. 

In the first week of July 1992, 
we began fieldwork at Qjjx-l 0, the 
largest of the three Late Dorset sites 
located on the southeastern portion 
of Little Cornwallis Island (fig. 20.1 ). 
Once in the field, we proceeded with 
our original plan to bring a group of 
community elders and council mem- 
bers to our camp on Little Cornwallis 
Island. We hoped that this visit 
might result in a change in the 
council's position vis-a-vis permis- 
sion to excavate (Helmer et al. 
1 993). Council members, as well as 
several elders (including Simonie 
Amarualik, his wife Sarah, and 
Minnie Allakariallak), arrived at our 
field camp on July 1 6. 3 

We took the elders and council members on an 
extensive tour of OJJx-1 to show them the variety of 
architectural features that are preserved at the site and 
some of the surface artifacts (still in situ) that had been 
located up to that point. During the tour, we discussed 
what we hoped to accomplish at the site through our 
research. We also invited our guests to provide us with 
their observations, comments, and queries about the 
site, the artifacts they had seen, and the surrounding 
area. At the end of the tour, we asked Simonie 
Amarualik to recommend an appropriate name for 
the site. He suggested tasiarulik, or "place of many 
small lakes," which is an apt description of the area 
surrounding the site. 


2 5 5 

Before our guests departed, we asked Mayor 
Eckalook to bring our request for permission to 
excavate at the Tasiarulik site forward to the council 
for a third time. We further requested that he inform 
us (via the Polar Continental Shelf Project office in 
Resolute with whom we were in direct radio contact), 
should there be any change in the council's position 
during the remaining four weeks of our field season. 
Regrettably, the council did not reverse its decision. 

On our return to Resolute at the end of the season, 
we met with Mayor Eckalook to discuss our plans 
for future fieldwork on Little Cornwallis Island and 
to arrange for several public presentations of our 
work the following Spring. Although noncommittal 
about the possibilities of fieldwork in 1 993, he did 
offer us some useful suggestions for future commu- 
nity presentations. He specifically requested that we 
come to the settlement at some point to speak to 
local schoolchildren about northern prehistory. He 
also asked that several children be allowed to partici- 
pate in next year's mid-season visit to the Tasiarulik 
site. This, he suggested, would give the youngest mem- 
bers of the community a valuable opportunity to learn 
about the past from their elders. 

The Dilemma Facing Archaeology in the 

Thanks to the 1 992 field season, we learned that the 
residents of the Hamlet of Resolute Bay share many 
concerns that we, as archaeologists, can directly ad- 
dress. For example, several people we met expressed 
their dismay over the fact that dozens of "southern" 
scientists come to the Arctic every summer to carry 
out their research and then return to the south without 
ever directly consulting with the community— either 
about their work or their findings. We actually encoun- 
tered a great deal of resentment over this neglect. Al- 
though many of us (southern-based scientists) have 
felt that we were actively communicating with local 
communities about our research, obviously we have 
not been doing this effectively or meaningfully. 

We were also confronted with a number of 
commonly held misconceptions about the discipline 
of archaeology itself. Many people expressed their 
dismay at what they perceived to be the wanton 
destruction of archaeological sites through deep 
excavation. We were told that "tourists visiting the 
North want to see old houses, not holes in the ground." 
The council members who visited our site last summer 
appeared to be surprised when we explained that most 
excavations in the Far North— at least at Paleoeskimo 
sites— are seldom deeper than 5 orl centimeters 
and that excavation units were backfilled upon 
completion. We also pointed out to them that only 
a small portion of an archaeological site was ever 

On several occasions, council members asked 
about the ultimate "fate" of the artifacts recovered 
during excavations. Some believed that the artifacts 
were simply taken south and sold. This view, we 
might add, is closely linked to the perception that 
the sole motivation that brings archaeologists to the 
North to dig is profit. Others on the council firmly 
believed that artifacts, once removed from the North, 
merely sit "in dusty basements" where no one can see 
them. In their view, artifacts should not leave the North, 
and those that have been removed should be returned 
to the communities where they have been found. 

Rightly or wrongly held, these objections are all 
legitimate concerns. They are also concerns that, in 
theory, can be directly addressed by archaeologists 
through ongoing communication, education, and 
negotiation. Unfortunately, these concerns are perhaps 
the least of our worries. 

Although never directly expressed to us by the 
hamlet council, there appears, upon long reflection, to 
be two primary issues involved in our ongoing permit 
dilemma. The first concerns the perceived relevance of 
archaeological research to the residents of Resolute 
Bay themselves. The second, which we feel is inextri- 
cably linked to the first, relates to the tangled web of 
local, territorial, and national politics. 

2 56 


The Relevance of Archaeology 

During the past several decades, Western archae- 
ologists have grown increasingly receptive to the 
view that there are multiple ways of perceiving and 
interpreting the past, each with its own internal logic 
and justifiable rationale (e.g., Bielawski 1 989; Trigger 
1 989). For the last ten years, Bielawski (1 989) has stud- 
ied what she calls the "indigenous science" practiced 
by the Inuit of northern Canada. She has done an admi- 
rable job, we think, of articulating the differences be- 
tween Inuit and Western perceptions of the land and 
its past. 

As professional archaeologists, we have dedicated 
our careers to studying northern prehistory using the 
tools of Western science and philosophy. We have 
striven, over the years, to create rigorous, objective, 
and, to us, intrinsically fascinating reconstructions 
of the past. The problem, as Bielawski has made 
abundantly clear, is that our interpretations, no matter 
how carefully crafted, have little or no relevance to the 
people of Resolute Bay. As we have been told by 
members of the hamlet council, "Our elders already 
know all that we need to know about the past. What 
you have to say is not important to us." 

In an insightful article, McGhee (1 989) has discussed 
some of the inherent contradictions between Native 
and Western approaches to the interpretation of the 
past. McGhee argues that the "two solitudes" in this 
conflict stand to benefit more from cooperation than 
from confrontation. He suggests further that the ar- 
chaeological community, on one hand, and indig- 
enous peoples, on the other, should strive to strike 
a balance in which both parties would agree to "share" 
their knowledge and perceptions of the past. 

McGhee's position is one that we fully endorse but 
one that does not seem to appeal to the residents 
of Resolute Bay. The dilemma confronting us is that, 
insofar as the Resolute Bay Hamlet Council is concerned, 
we, as archaeologists, have nothing to offer them that 
they are interested in having. They do not see the value 
of alternate (i.e., Euro-Canadian) interpretations of the 

archaeological record. Although they may not own 
the past, they have de facto control over our access 
to it, at least in the form of newly excavated data. 
What then is their incentive to negotiate? 

Pawns in a Political Chess Game? 

One final issue confronting us in our efforts to gain 
council approval to continue archaeological research 
is perhaps less a question of differing ideologies than 
it is of local perceptions of political authority. For the 
past several years, the indigenous peoples of the North- 
west Territories have been engaged in the compre- 
hensive negotiation of land claims issues. These nego- 
tiations have recently resulted in Federal recognition 
of the territory of Nunavut in the Eastern Arctic. Many 
local land claim issues have also been recently settled, 
or are very close to being resolved. 

Land claim negotiations in the North have not al- 
ways been easy or amicable. There has been frequent 
friction and disagreement between the various local, 
territorial, and federal jurisdictions. In the High Arctic, 
tensions surrounding land claims issues have been fur- 
ther exacerbated by the ongoing controversy over the 
"resettlement," by the federal government, of several 
Inuit families from northern Quebec to Resolute Bay 
and Grise Fiord in the 1 950s. Feelings of betrayal, loss, 
and neglect continue to run high in both communities 
of "High Arctic Exiles." 

Over the years, the Resolute Bay Hamlet Council 
appears to have developed the strong impression that 
it possesses little or no political authority, even within 
its own local area. In the context of our current permit- 
ting problems, the council has long recognized that it 
has the nominal authority to approve permit applica- 
tions for archaeological excavations. It remains con- 
vinced, however, that the territorial government is not 
interested in its opinions and is willing to issue permits 
regardless of local concerns. 

Looking at the situation from this perspective, we 
can suggest that the Resolute Bay Hamlet Council may 
have rejected all archaeological permits for the 1 992 


2 57 

season simply to test the strength of its newly found 
political authority. The fact that council members who 
visited our site this summer were both surprised and 
pleased to find that we had not received permission 
to dig by the government suggests that this might be 
so. Perhaps now that the council has successfully dem- 
onstrated its political strength in this matter, it will leave 
the door open for future negotiations. Conversely, this 
experience may very well encourage the council to 
become even more restrictive toward scientific research 
in the North. Only time will tell. 

Implications for the Future 

It is clear from our experiences in 1 992 that the 
nature of archaeological fieldwork in the North is 
changing. It is fairly safe to say that our freedom to 
excavate when and where we please will be, in the 
future, greatly constrained. Archaeologists will have 
to rely more and more on the kind of non-interven- 
tionist, non-destructive survey and surface evalua- 
tion of archaeological sites that we employed at 
OJJx-1 in 1992. 

For Paleoeskimo specialists working in the High 
Arctic, this may be less catastrophic than it will be for 
Neoeskimo specialists. In the High Arctic polar desert 
environment, Early and Late Paleoeskimo sites are sel- 
dom obscured by either soil or dense vegetation. In 
1992, for example, we were able, through surface 
examination alone, to identify more than 760 stone, 
bone, antler, ivory, and metal tools at the Tasiarulik 
site (Helmer et al. 1 993). Among the different types of 
artifacts we found were a variety of endblades, bifaces, 
burins, blades, lamp fragments, copper and iron frag- 
ments, harpoon heads, darts, an incised "wand," and a 
variety of zoomorphic and anthropomorphic figurines, 
including one of the most spectacular examples of 
a spirit transformation figure that we have ever seen 
(fig. 20.2). In addition, we recorded and analyzed 
more than 3,400 animal bones and bone fragments 
(Darwent 1 993, 1 995; Helmer et al. 1 993). It is an en- 
tirely different story for Neoeskimo specialists, how- 

ever, since the sites in which they are interested are 
often heavily vegetated and contain relatively few vis- 
ible surface artifacts. 

Another change that we may see in the future is an 
increase in the amount of targeted research. As local 
communities become more aware of the commercial 
benefits accruing from the tourism industry, hamlet 
councils may begin asking archaeologists to cooper- 
ate in the excavation and restoration of specific ar- 
chaeological sites located near their settlements. Per- 
haps if archaeologists can demonstrate their worth in 
this way, attitudes toward more "scholarly" archaeo- 
logical research will change for the better. 

Archaeology in the Canadian North is not, in our 
opinion, a dead issue. There are still research options 
open for us to pursue, most notably, some of the non- 
intrusive techniques we used in 1 992, as well as more 
technologically advanced methods, such as synthetic 
aperture radar, 4 now under development. To survive 
as academic researchers, however, we have to be- 
come more flexible and innovative in our responses to 
the changing sociopolitical environment in which we 
live and work. 

Our experience in Resolute Bay has taught us that 
we must take the initiative to involve the community 
in our work, to educate them about what we do and 
why we do it, and to find out from them what they 
know about the past, what they would like to learn (if 
anything), and how we can help. These goals can, in 
part, be achieved by producing general interest ar- 
ticles, museum displays, videos, and other educational 
tools, but this is only part of the answer. Personal con- 
tact is an essential part of this. We have had great 
success, and a lot of fun, with school talks, including 
hands-on activities, and with an open-house display in 
the community at the end of the field season. We have 
also been lucky to be able to bring members of the 
community out to our site to see archaeological work 
in progress. All of these efforts, and more, are neces- 
sary to establish and maintain good relations with the 
people of the North. 

2 5 8 


Resolution in 1 993 

When we originally presented this as a paper, we 
were awaiting a decision from the Hamlet of Resolute 
Bay on our application for a permit to conduct exca- 
vations at the Tasiarulik site in 1993. In this applica- 
tion, we outlined our plans to test the representative- 
ness of the surface information, which we had col- 
lected at Qjjx-l in 1992, by excavating a selected 
sample of specific feature types at the site. We stressed 
the urgent need to formally assess the statistical valid- 
ity of conducting surface 
evaluations of Paleoeskimo 
sites if our access to such sites 
was going to continue to be 
restricted. In earlyjune of 1 993, 
both of us traveled to Reso- 
lute Bay to meet with the ham- 
let council to discuss our ap- 
plication and to give an illus- 
trated presentation to the lo- 
cal school. Council members 
listened very carefully to our 
arguments and approved our 
request for an excavation per- 
mit. The formal testing of the 
surface data collected in 1 992 
began at the end of June 1 993. 

Postscript 2001 

Much has happened since this 
chapter was originally pre- 
pared. We have completed 
two fields seasons of excava- 
tion (Helmer et al. 1 995a, 
1995b). Nunavut became a reality, and as a result 
the process for approving archaeological excavation 
permits (and a multitude of other heritage-related is- 
sues) has changed. In retrospect, the results of the 
"crisis" have been positive. Our original goals for com- 
munity outreach have been met, thanks to an ongo- 
ing dialog with community members, and they have 

been met in what we hope were productive ways. 
After the 1 992 field season, Mayor Ekalook had sug- 
gested that children accompany community elders on 
future site visits so that they could learn firsthand 
about their past. Accordingly, in 1993 a group of 
people of all ages visited the site, again at the cour- 
tesy of Cominco (Polaris Mines) Limited, which pro- 
vided a Twin Otter aircraft. We also planned a visit 
for the 1 994 field season but were forced to post- 
pone it initially and then to cancel it because of poor 

flying conditions. We vis- 
ited the community more 
often (in the spring of 
1993 and again in 1994, 
and a final visit in 1 998). 
We met with the hamlet 
council and spoke to lo- 
cal school children on 
each occasion. Although 
a public slide show in the 
spring of 1 994 attracted 
little attention, an invita- 
tion to the community to 
see artifacts recovered in 
1 994 was very popular. 
Finally, in the spring of 
1 998, we prepared a pho- 
tographic display that 
documented the project 
in Inuktitut and English. 
(The artifacts themselves 
are currently housed in 
the Prince of Wales North- 
ern Heritage Center in 
Yellowknife; they will be transferred to a facility in 
Nunavut when it is built, but it appears unlikely that 
they will be housed at Resolute Bay.) When we last 
heard, there were plans to install the photographic dis- 
play in the village's new community hall, which was 
then under construction. Altogether, three students 
from Resolute Bay worked with us in the field, as 

20.2/ This Dorset ivory carving of a spirit trans- 
formation figure was located on Little Cornwallis 
Island in 1992, but was not collected until permis- 
sion was granted in 1993. 


2 59 

well as one Arctic College student, who received 
college credit for her work. 

From an academic perspective, the "crisis" also had 
a positive impact. Perhaps most significant was the 
opportunity to test a new data collection technique in 
a controlled field situation. As we pointed out to the 
hamlet council in 1 993, the surface material that we 
had collected in 1 992 was impressive, but it was diffi- 
cult to compare with other collections recovered by 
excavation. By excavating the site, we generated a 
sample that could be used to compare the surface 
sample with the subsurface sample, and to evaluate 
the utility of this technique for future use. Work on this 
is ongoing (see Helmer et al.1994). Even before the 
analysis was complete, we felt that the surface survey 
technique we had developed inl 992 was worth con- 
tinuing and applied it to all areas designated for exca- 
vation in the following years. We also tested other 
noninvasive survey techniques, the most successful 
of which was a metal detector (Rast 1995). Other 
members of our field crews have gone on to apply 
these surface evaluation methods at other sites 
(Dawson 1997). 

Viewed more broadly, our 1 992 "crisis" turned out 
to be a mere ripple. As far as we can tell, there have 
been no long-term negative effects on northern archae- 
ology. Other researchers have continued to work in 
the area, although not all of them have received per- 
mission to excavate. This factor is probably due more 
to changes in the overall permitting structure in the 

new territorial government than to any positive (or nega- 
tive) impact of our research. We can hope that our 
community outreach efforts have had some posi- 
tive results, but we will probably never be able to 
tell with any certainty. Both the "crisis" itself and our 
reaction to it are best seen in a broader context. 
This involves the political action underway on the eve 
of the formation of a new Canadian territory, and the 
widespread recognition among archaeologists that 
communication with the people in whose communi- 
ties we do our research is not simply a line in a grant 
proposal but an important and necessary part of ev- 
ery research project. 


1 . This chapter was originally prepared for 
publication in 1993. We have chosen to let the 
main text stand as it was then, so it does not 
reflect important changes in the political situa- 
tion of what is now Nunavut. Readers who are 
interested in the archaeological results of the field- 
work can consult: Helmer et al. 1993, 1995a, 
1 995b; LeMoine et al. 1 995; LeMoine and Darwent 
1 998. A postscript summarizes the current state 
of affairs. 

2. This application was unsuccessful. 

3. We are greatly indebted to Tony Keen and 
Jim Armstrong of Cominco Resource's Polaris Mine 
Operation for organizing the Twin Otter flights and 
other arrangements that brought our visitors into 
the field. 

4. Tim Davies is currently developing this 
promising technique at the University of Calgary. 




jnuit participation in the /\rchaeo!ogtj of 

j\|unaVLlt: A Historical Overview 


Today we are all well aware of the negative stereo- 
type of archaeologists that exists in Nunavut. In this 
chapter, I examine the genesis of this stereotype by 
exploring the history of Inuit involvement with archae- 
ology. I have divided this history into five time peri- 
ods: (1 ) Pre-Contact; (2) European Contact and the Be- 
ginnings of Non-lnuit Archaeology (late 1 500s to World 
War II); (3) Alienation (post-World War II); (4) Politicalization 
and Change (1 977-1 993); and (5) The Next Step (post- 
1 993). The fourth section contains an extensive dis- 
cussion on the Igloolik Archaeology Field School, which 
represents one of several attempts by archaeologists 
to address Inuit concerns about archaeology. 


Prior to contact with Europeans, Inuit children grew up 
in a culture in which history played an active role in 
their daily lives. Infants were given names that had 
belonged to deceased relatives. A child's name guided 
the child through his/her relationships with others. 
Rather than referring to people by their given names, 
Inuit used turs\urausiit (kinship terms). These terms, 
however, were not those of the child but rather those 
of the individual for whom the child had been named. 
Hence, a young girl named for her maternal grandfa- 
ther would be referred to by her mother as "little fa- 
ther." Children frequently received more than one name 
and were referred to by the preferred term of the indi- 
vidual by whom they were being addressed. This use 
of kinship terms kept people's memories alive from 
generation to generation. 

As children grew, they were surrounded by his- 
tory. Through history, youngsters learned not only 
about the past but also about their land and their cul- 
ture. They learned about the location of resources 
and the fluctuations of fauna. They learned about 
behaviors that were considered acceptable and 
those that were considered unacceptable. Learning 
these things was an important part of growing up, 
since a child's survival depended upon this knowl- 

Geographical place names reflect Inuit heritage. 
Many places are named for their physical character- 
istics, such as Itillukuluk, which means "pleasant little 
land crossing between two bodies of water." Others 
are named for their resources, such as Uluksarnat, "place 
where there is slate," or Nirliviktuuq, "place where there 
are many Canada geese." Still other locations are named 
after historic events, such as Iksivauttaujaq, "like a 
chair," on Igloolik Island, which commemorates the 
history of two brothers, and Uujaarsiartalik, "the 
burial place of Uujaarsiaq." Finally, some places are 
named after archaeological features, such as Iglurjuat, 
or "place of big houses." 1 

26 1 

Young Inuit had different ways of learning about 
the past. One was through an understanding of their 
names and their relationships to others in the commu- 
nity. Another was through learning the local geogra- 
phy. Still another way was through oral history. In 1 862, 
the Inuit informant Ebierbing (also known asjoe) told 
Charles Francis Hall how Inuit use oral history to trans- 
fer knowledge from generation to generation: 

When our baby boy gets old enough, we tell 
him all about you, and about all these 
kodlunas who brought brick, iron, and coal 
to where you have been, and of the kodlunas 
who built a ship on Kodlunarn Island [Sir 
Martin Frobisher]. When boy gets to be an 
old Innuit he will tell it to their Innuits, and so 
all Innuits will know what we now know. 
(Hall 1 864, vol. 2:1 71) 

While oral traditions were the most common way 
of imparting history, Inuit also used another unusual 
approach— an indigenous, small-scale archaeology. 
Many archaeological sites in the Arctic are highly 
visible. While waiting at Inuit land camps for the ice 
to break up in early summer, the elders and children 
often dug into nearby old dwellings for educational 
purposes or to collect raw materials for tool and art 
manufacture. The elders used the artifacts they found 
to instruct youngsters about past lifeways. Although 
most of these artifacts were left at the site, some were 
curated and taken from camp to camp. In certain 
cases, these artifacts were used as amulets. 

I was assured that broken spear-heads, and 
other equally cumbrous pendants, worn 
around the necks of young girls, were spells 
for the preservation of their chastity; while 
the same ornaments caused married women 
to be prolific. (Lyon 1824:368) 

Artifacts that had been used by great hunters 
were sometimes kept and passed on to succeeding 
generations. Sometimes harpoon heads were obtained 
from elders who were no longer able to hunt in the 
belief that the elders "luck" would be transferred or 
that special implements could acquire properties that 
actually attracted seals (Mathiassen 1928:150). Inuit 
held the land in great respect and this respect included 

archaeological sites. Occasionally, if a site was the lo- 
cation of a starvation camp or curse, it was feared and 
avoided. Respect was also shown to bones that were 
found lying on the land. 

When we came across old bones on the 
ground, some might even be so old that part 
of it would be covered with earth, we would 
lift the bones up and lay them down again 
with the other side on the ground. This was 
so that the bone could rest by placing the 
side that was on the ground facing away 
from the ground. There were all kinds of 
things observed at the time when the taboos 
were strictly adhered to for the purpose of 
appeasing [the unknown]. (Noah Piugattuk, 
Igoolik Oral History Project ) 

Years ago it was said that the bones get 
tuningurtaqtut (tired of being in the [same] 
position for a long time). So it was said that 
the bones should be flipped or repositioned 
in order to let it rest from the same position. 
(Suzanne Niviattian, Igoolik Oral History Project ) 

During the initial period, then, Inuit controlled their 
own past and its interpretation. They had traditions 
concerning their origins, their history, and the recent 
past. These traditions were transmitted from one gen- 
eration to the next through people's names, local ge- 
ography, oral history, and archaeological remains. 

European Contact and the Beginnings of 
Non-inuit Archaeology (late 1 500s-WWII) 

During the second period, the transmission of Inuit his- 
tory to the next generation changed very little, but 
with the arrival of Europeans, outsiders began to se- 
quester for themselves control over Inuit history. As 
early as 1 767, Europeans were inquiring about the ori- 
gins of Inuit culture (Crantz 1 767). 4 As European inter- 
est in the Arctic grew and whalers, traders, and mis- 
sionaries moved into the region, more and more eth- 
nographic artifacts found their way to the museums of 
Europe and North America. In the early 1900s, Franz 
Boas asked several whaling captains, including George 
Comer, to collect artifacts for the American Museum 
of Natural History in New York during their voyages. In 
a letter dated May 31, 1906, Boas's colleague Clark 
Wissler wrote to Comer, saying that: 



"we are especially interested in archaeological 
material, or such material as may be found in 
old deserted villages and burial grounds. We 
should like all of this material you can get, and 
you should bear in mind that the more ancient 
those village sites are the more valuable the 
specimens obtained from them will be." 

Wissler's last comment certainly provided Comer with 
an incentive to dig at archaeological sites. Prior to this, 
Comer had collected skeletal material for the museum 
from the west coast of Hudson Bay. In June 1 905, when 
Comer's whale boat was smashed by a whale, how- 
ever, the Inuit contended that the spirits of those indi- 
viduals whose skulls had been collected had entered 
the whale and punished Comer. They warned Comer 
to stop collecting skulls to ensure his continued safe- 
ty and success in the whale hunt. Comer (1906:483) 
wrote: "It is needless to say that I did not tamper with 
skulls anymore." Whalers like Comer and traders like 
George Cleveland (Eber 1 989:1 25-1 27), who collected 
skeletal material at the behest of anthropologists and 
archaeologists as well as of members of the later Fifth 
Thule Expedition, are primarily responsible for the view, 
commonly held among the Inuit of Nunavut, that ar- 
chaeologists are grave robbers. 

When the Inuit realized that old artifacts were of 
interest to outsiders, they began to assemble collec- 
tions, which they offered for trade. Among the many 
collections put together in this way were: 

The Dutilly collectio n, now housed at the Cana- 
dian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa, it came from a 
number of sites along the west coast of Hudson Bay 
and Melville Peninsula. The artifacts were collected by 
Inuit who brought the material to Roman Catholic mis- 
sionaries in the 1920s and 1930s. Later, these collec- 
tions were acquired by Father Dutilly as he traveled 
along the coast on the ship Therese. 

The Burwash collection , also housed at the Cana- 
dian Museum of Civilization. On a visit to Cape Dorset 
in 1 924, L. T. Burwash purchased a small archaeologi- 
cal collection from Inuit and obtained a larger collec- 
tion from the local Hudson's Bay Company post. 

The Bazin collection , which was obtained by G. W. 
Rowley for the Museum of Archaeology and Anthro- 
pology in Cambridge, England. During a visit to Igloolik 
in 1937, Rowley acquired the small collection from 
the local priest Father Bazin. The collection had come 
from a nearby walrus hunting camp called Avvajja 

In many cases, these collections played important 
roles in the development of arctic archaeology. For 
example, after examining the Burwash collection, 
Diamond Jenness (1925) was able to postulate that 
a culture, which he provisionally called the Cape 
Dorset culture, had existed in the Canadian Arctic 
that was older than the Thule culture. In another 
case, G. W. Rowley, inspired by the Bazin collection, 
returned to the Arctic to excavate at Awajja, which 
turned out to be the first recognized pure Dorset site 
(Rowley 1940, 1996, this volume). 

Between 1921 and 1924, the Danish Fifth Thule 
Expedition swept across the Canadian Arctic marking 
the beginning of systematic archaeology in Nunavut. 
Although Therkel Mathiassen was the archaeologist 
on the expedition, other expedition members, includ- 
ing Rasmussen, Birket-Smith, and Freuchen, also con- 
ducted excavations and assembled large archaeologi- 
cal and ethnographic collections. Subsequently, this 
material was exported to Denmark, and only a few 
token specimens have been returned to the Canadian 
Museum of Civilization. 

Following the Fifth Thule Expedition and other 
foreign expeditions into the Canadian Arctic, legisla- 
tive steps were taken to ensure that the Canadian gov- 
ernment was properly informed of all exploration and 
scientific expeditions. In 1 926, the Ordinance Respect- 
ing Scientists and Explorers, the precursor of today's 
Northwest Territories' Scientific Research Licence, was 
passed; this ordinance required permits for all scien- 
tists and explorers visiting the Northwest Territo- 
ries. This was followed in June 1 930 by the passage 
of the Eskimo Ruins Ordinance, which prohibited exca- 
vations in the Northwest Territories without a license 



and made it illegal to transport artifacts out of the 
country and out of the Northwest Territories without 
the permission of the Commissioner of the Northwest 
Territories. The ordinance imposed a $1 000 fine or six 
months of imprisonment for violations. While this leg- 
islation was designed to ensure that foreign expedi- 
tions did not remove cultural property from Canada, it 
also made it illegal for Inuit to dig in the places occu- 
pied by their own ancestors. Inuit were largely unaware 
of the existence of this legislation and it was never 
enforced by the RCMP. 

With the arrival of European archaeologists in the 
1920s, Inuit were occasionally employed as field 
assistants and their expertise was sought for identi- 
fying animal bones. At the same time, archaeologists 
tried to discourage Inuit from digging in sites. They 
were concerned that the sites were being dug solely 
to reclaim artifacts for sale and that the archaeological 
context of the artifacts was being destroyed (H. B. 
Collins, personal communication; G. W. Rowley, per- 
sonal communication). 

During the second period, Inuit continued to con- 
trol their past and its interpretation within their own 
culture but not the interpretation and presentation of 
their history to the rest of the world. Those who inter- 
preted Inuit culture to the outside world had often 
spent several years in the Arctic living with Inuit and 
learning to speak Inuktitut. However, the great archaeo- 
logical debates of this time— first between Mathiassen 
and Birket-Smith and then between Mathiassen and 
Jenness— made little use of Inuit interpretations of their 
past and origins. Inuit were beginning to be alienated 
from their past. 

Alienation (Post-World War H) 

Following World War II, non-lnuit control over arctic 
archaeology and the interpretation of Inuit history was 
completed. Three factors— improvements in transpor- 
tation, a movement toward a "scientific" archaeology, 
and education in the south— were primarily respon- 
sible for this trend. 

The construction of airfields in Nunavut at Iqaluit 
and Coral Harbour (on Southampton Island) during World 
War II and a third airfield at Resolute Bay shortly after 
the war allowed archaeologists, for the first time, to 
arrive in and depart from Nunavut during the same 
year. It is no accident that the first archaeological 
projects undertaken after the war were at Iqaluit, 
Resolute Bay, and Southampton Island (Collins 1950, 
1951a, 1956a). The transportation infrastructure was 
strengthened with the construction of the Distant Early 
Warning (DEW) sites in the late 1950s. In 1958, the 
Canadian Government established the Polar Continen- 
tal Shelf Project (PCSP), which provided free logistical 
support to scientists working in remote areas of the 
Arctic. At about the same time, large soft airplane tires 
were developed, allowing the versatile Twin Otter plane 
to take off and land almost anywhere (Anonymous 
1 974). These developments made it possible for sci- 
entists and archaeologists to come and go during 
the same season and to work in areas far removed 
from Inuit camps and communities. They enabled 
archaeologists to become the "Cowboys of Science" 
(Robert McGhee quoting Gero [1985:983]). Finally, 
they ensured that most archaeologists would rarely 
have contact with Inuit and would, instead, bring 
their field crews from the south. 6 

In the period after World War II, there was a com- 
plete turnover in the roster of archaeologists who con- 
ducted research in Nunavut. Before the war, those 
working in the region were trained in Europe; after the 
war, they all came from North America. This change 
resulted in a move away from the more "humanist" 
traditions of European archaeology and toward the 
more "scientific" approaches of North American archae- 
ology. The new arctic archaeologists readily adopted 
cultural ecology and the "New Archeology" and view- 
ed cultural ecology as especially well suited for ex- 
plaining cultural adaptations to the harsh Arctic envi- 
ronment. This more scientific approach effectively 
left little or no role for Inuit and their interpretations of 
the past. 



Finally, there was a change in educational programs 
during this period. Canada began to establish schools 
in the north. These schools taught southern knowl- 
edge and southern values rather than northern indig- 
enous knowledge, which was not valued and was 
frequently regarded as knowledge that was rapidly 
disappearing and largely irrelevant. When students 
were taught about their own past, their teachers 
frequently relied on books written by archaeologists 
and anthropologists rather than consulting with lo- 
cal Elders. 

These factors meant that, by the mid-1 970s, Inuit 
prehistory had been completely sequestered from the 
inuit by southern archaeologists. Not only were archae- 
ologists interpreting Inuit history for the outside world 
but they were also telling Inuit what to believe about 
their past. This divorce between archaeology and Inuit 
knowledge was exacerbated by the fact that most 
archaeologists only visited the Arctic in the summer 
and rarely communicated with Inuit. 

Politicization and Change (1 977-1 993) 

A period of political awakening for the Inuit of Canada 
followed in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1971, the U.S. 
Congress passed the Alaska Native Claims Settlement 
Act (ANCSA), which set aside land for Alaska's native 
peoples and provided a cash settlement in exchange 
for other lands. Quick to learn from the American expe- 
rience, the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada (1 977) submitted 
their land claim Nunavut: Our Land to the federal gov- 
ernment in 1 977. 

As Inuit became more politically active, their voices 
were heard more frequently outside the north. People 
became aware of not only how Inuit felt about their 
land but also how they felt about the way they and 
the land were treated by outsiders. Southern archae- 
ologists learned— to their consternation— that many 
Inuit held strong negative attitudes toward archaeolo- 
gists and that they perceived archaeologists as people 
who stole Inuit cultural property and earned fame and 
fortune from this thievery. 

While most archaeologists were appalled by this 
characterization, they also recognized that the stereo- 
type had some validity. Several archaeologists reacted 
by developing programs designed to alter these per- 

One of these was the Thule Archaeology Conser- 
vation Project, initiated by Allen McCartney and co- 
sponsored by the Archaeological Survey of Canada. In 
the 1 970s, Inuit artists began creating large sculptures 
out of whale bone. With no ready source of modern 
bone, they turned to archaeological sites. At first, the 
artists removed whale bone from the surfaces of sites. 
When this source was depleted, they began excavat- 
ing old dwellings to remove the whale bone that 
served as structural supports. The Thule Archaeology 
Conservation Project was a response to the heavy dam- 
age that resulted at archaeological sites. The project 
aimed to create an inventory of sites that contained 
surface whalebone. After the sites and the bones had 
been mapped, the surface bones were stockpiled for 
the use of artists (McCartney 1 979). This project ac- 
knowledged the need of Inuit for this resource, and it 
came up with an innovative approach that served the 
interests of both Inuit carvers and archaeologists. 

Another project designed to alter perceptions was 
the establishment of the Northern Heritage Society Field 
School. Founded in 1 979 by Ellen Bielawski and Sally 
Cole, the society sought to provide an environment 
for northern youth where they could be exposed to 
the sciences, including archaeology, in a field setting. 
The field school operated from 1 979 to 1 986, when 
funding became more difficult to secure and when other 
organizations began addressing the same concerns. 
In 1987 and 1988, the society supported several stu- 
dents at archaeological sites in the Arctic and sub- 
Arctic. It also maintained a database of northerners 
who had attended the field school and were available 
to work as trained field assistants for scientists en- 
gaged in northern research. 7 

The Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre 
(PWNHC), which is responsible for all archaeology 


26 5 

21.1/ Students learn to knap obsidian from George Qualut 

conducted in the Northwest Territories, initiated two 
programs to increase Inuit awareness of and involve- 
ment in archaeology. In 1981, the PWNHC developed 
a traveling exhibit on archaeology, which consisted of 
several display cases of replicated artifacts and illus- 
trated the differences between the Dorset and Thule 
cultures as understood by archaeologists. 8 This exhibit 
met with varying degrees of success: while many 
people were interested in it, most communities wanted 
to see real artifacts and displays that were relevant to 
their particular region. 9 From 1 983 to 1 987, the PWNHC 
also sponsored an archaeological training program for 
northerners. Directed by Chuck Arnold at the archaeo- 
logical site of Cupaaq in the Mackenzie Delta, this pro- 
gram focused on training students in field techniques. 10 
In 1 977, the PWNHC and the CMC instituted a new 
permitting process for archaeological work in the 
Northwest Territories that gave local communities more 
input. Prior to that time, applicants had submitted their 
requests to a committee of archaeologists from the 
Archaeological Survey of Canada, which consulted with 
officials in the Northwest Territories and later with the 
PWNHC. Their decisions were based on the applicant's 
qualifications with no input from Inuit. Beginning in 1 977, 

applicants were required to re- 
quest permission from officials in 
communities nearest their re- 
search sites. Community permis- 
sion became a required compo- 
nent of the application process 
but, because no legislation had 
been changed, the committee 
retained the power to grant per- 
mits even if the community re- 
fused permission. 

The archaeological compo- 
nent of this program developed 
from work undertaken by Doug 
Stenton at Qarmaarviit for his 
master's thesis. Stenton em- 
ployed Iqaluit residents to work 
with him on these excavations. Later, he taught at the 
Nunatta campus of Arctic College. When the college's 
archaeology program became an integral part of the 
Environmental Technology Program in 1 987, it offered 
two courses— a field program located at Peterhead 
Inlet and a lab methods course taught at the college 
campus in Iqaluit. 

Another project was developed in the late 1 980s 
by John Jamieson, the principal of the school at Sani- 
kiluaq on the Belcher Islands. Fascinated by archaeol- 
ogy and especially by experimental archaeology, 
Jamieson organized a 1 988 workshop for teachers from 
the Baffin Divisional Board of Education to learn about 
arctic archaeology. At this workshop, Inuit elders dem- 
onstrated skin working techniques and flint knappers 
from the south demonstrated flint knapping (fig. 21.1). 
Teachers were able to make casts of archaeological 
artifacts from the Arctic using molds provided by the 
Canadian Museum of Civilization. 

The last project that I describe here as an example 
of a program designed to initiate a dialog between 
Inuit and archaeologists is the Igloolik Archaeology 
Field School. 11 This program began in 1990 as a joint 
effort between Carolyn MacDonald, an Igloolik teacher, 



and myself. In 1987, I started a project on the pre- 
history of the Igloolik region and Carolyn assisted 
me in the field. She watched as every year I tried in 
different ways to involve the youth and the elders of 
the community in my projects. To some degree we 
agreed that I was successful. The youth were inter- 
ested and came away from the work with an in- 
creased pride in their heritage. However, there was 
always a conflict between archaeological fieldwork 
as a learning experience and as a nine-to-five job. This 
conflict existed not just in my mind but was also felt 
by the youth. 

One afternoon while conducting a survey, we 
stumbled upon a partially bulldozed late Dorset site 
(Qalirusiujak, NiHf-45). Carolyn suggested that the site 
was an ideal setting for an archaeological field school 
run under the auspices of the local school. We con- 
sulted with the mayor, the hamlet administrator, and 
the school principal, all of whom were favorably 
disposed to the field school concept. The field pro- 
gram began in 1990 and has continued every year 
since (fig. 21 .2). 

Each year we enroll a total of eight to eleven stu- 
dents. The students can take the course for three years, 
receiving credits at 
grades 10, 1 1, and 12. 
During the first year, the 
students' credits were 
registered under the 
NWT Department of 
Education's Special Pro- 
jects subject area. In 
1 991 , following our re- 
quest, the Department 
of Education recog- 
nized archaeology as a 
separate subject area, 
and the credits the stu- 
dents now receive are 
designated in the field 
of archaeology. 12 

Curriculum development is always a difficult task. 
What are the aims and objectives of the program and 
how best can these be realized? In our case, the task 
was twice as difficult as we tried both to involve the 
local community and to provide a course that resolves 
some issues about archaeology and southern science 
for the students. We have tried new approaches every 
year, keeping what works and throwing out what has 
not. After three years, we believe we have created a 
basic program that functions well both for the com- 
munity and for us as educators and archaeologists. 

The Igloolik Archaeology Field School has a num- 
ber of objectives that deal with community concerns 
not only about archaeology and control over the past 
but also about education and the problems faced by 
today's youth. Among these goals are: 

1 . To introduce students to the study of the 
past both through archaeology and oral 
history. We aim to give them an understand- 
ing of the time depth and remarkable 
achievements of their culture. We, the 
outsiders, encourage the students' pride in 
their culture by demonstrating our respect 
for the achievements of their ancestors and 
the knowledge of today's elders. 

2. To build students' self confidence levels 

2 ] .2/ Students excavating and mapping at Arnaqaaksaat (NiHf-4) 



so they can succeed, we give them the 
ability to alter both their grades and the 
number of credits they receive for the course. 
We also treat them as adults by making our 
expectations of them very clear and vice 
versa. For many of them, this course is similar 
to a first job and we want this experience to 
be as positive as possible. We use many 
different teaching methods and assessment 
techniques to discover the strengths of each 
student; these include team work, individual 
assignments, repetitive tasks, and creative 
writing. In conjunction with building self- 
confidence is responsibility; students who 
are enrolled in the course for a second or 
third years are often placed in charge of the 
excavation for periods of time. As their self- 
confidence grows, so too do their responsi- 
bilities and our expectations. 

3. To demonstrate how southern scientists 
go about their research. We outline the 
scientific method. For some students, this is 
their introduction to this concept; others 
have taken biology and chemistry and have 
an understanding of this set of procedures. 
We start with a series of questions and ask 
how these questions can be answered. In 
terms of scientific experiments, we ask what 
the purpose, method, equipment, observa- 
tions, results, and conclusions are. For the 
Inuit, this approach is similar to their own 
methods of interpreting their universe. 

4. To provide students with a forum to 
practice the skills that they have obtained in 
school. This includes the use of Inuktitut 
syllabics for artifact exhibits, art for exhibit 
design, illustration, and mapping, and English 
for data recording and journal entries. We 
also put to practical use the abstract skills 
the students learn at school in other disci- 
plines, such as mathematics and biology. For 
example, they apply x, y, and z coordinates 
for mapping artifacts they excavate; they use 
the Pythagorean theorem for creating grids, 
so that they excavate in equal meter square 
units; they incorporate triangulation for 
calculating the height above sea level, which 
provides a relative date for the site; and they 
use faunal analysis to understand the lives of 
people in the past. 

5. To provide students with skills they can 
use in the future but that they do not often 
learn at school. These include using survey 
equipment, developing negatives and 
printing photographs, and reading maps. 

6. We offer students the opportunity to 
learn about past lifeways— how to knap flint 

and make ground slate tools. The students 
find that the experimental archaeology compo- 
nent of the course increases their understand- 
ing of the skills people had in the past. 

7. We try to make the course work 
relevant to students. Lectures focus on 
questions about who owns the past and 
discussions of the Nunavut land claim 
agreement. We discuss the cultural heritage 
clauses of the agreement and how these 
may impact the students and archaeology. 

8. The course provides Inuit youth with 
training for future employment. Under the 
Nunavut land claim agreement, there is a 
potential for new jobs with the Inuit Heritage 
Trust and a preferential hiring provision for 
qualified Inuit. In addition, there are opportu- 
nities in tourism, a major growth industry in 
the north; Igloolik is seen as a potential 
locale for cultural tourism where history (both 
archaeological and oral) would be an impor- 
tant component of the tourism experience. 

9. We try to involve the community at all 
levels. As much as possible, we use commu- 
nity elders to inform our understanding of the 
past. Toward this end, we invite elders to 
visit the excavations and help us to interpret 
our finds and the site. We invite the commu- 
nity to visit the site, and we develop an 
exhibit for the community. In this way, we 
involve the community not only through the 
enrollment of their sons and daughters in the 
program but also through their participation 
as experts and viewers of the exhibit. 

1 0. For the larger community, the exhibit 
that we mount each year is the most impor- 
tant aspect of the program. The students 
choose the artifacts and the format of the 
exhibit (fig. 21 .3). They prepare all publicity 
and exhibit text (frequently calling on elders 
and parents for information and assistance 
with Inuktitut). They have also organized a 
contest, in which each visitor to the exhibit 
receives a paper harpoon head entry form 
and is asked to guess the number of artifacts 
that were uncovered that season. The winner 
receives a cake made by the students and 
decorated as an archaeological site. 

How successful has the Igoolik Archaeology Field 
School program been at integrating the community 
and archaeology? Although community support and 
integration are always difficult to evaluate, we have 
several indicators of our success. These include the 
continued support of the local education society for 



our grant and permit applications; the continued 
approval of our permit applications by the hamlet 
council; the number and quality of students who sign 
up for the course; the willingness of elders to assist 
us; and the large number of people who visit the 
exhibition we mount each year. 

The community wants a permanent archaeologi- 
cal exhibit; during the next few years, students in the 
course will work on developing and producing an ex- 
hibit. We also plan to reconstruct a Thule winter house 
we began excavating in 1 992. The elders we have 
talked with want to see this reconstruction go ahead 
and hope to use it both as a teaching tool and as a 
place where they can meet and reminisce. 

Throughout the period, southern-trained archae- 
ologists have continued to interpret Inuit history both 
for the wider public and for the Inuit. They also began 
to realize that Inuit not only needed to but also must 
play a greater role in the discovery of this past. Most 
of these efforts have focused on introducing Inuit to 
how archaeologists operate in the field and not on the 
interpretation of the past. 

The Next Step (Post-1993) 

In 1993, the Nunavut land claim agreement known as 
the Agreement between the Inuit of the Nunavut Settle- 
ment Area and Her Majesty the Queen was ratified 
and signed into law. Article 33 of the agreement pro- 
vides the framework for the future development and 
growth of archaeology. The Inuit Heritage Trust was 
established in 1994 under the provisions of the 
agreement to oversee archaeology in Nunavut. Fol- 
lowing the establishment of the Inuit Heritage Trust, 
all archaeological permits' 3 are reviewed by the Trust, 
which has the right to reject permit applications. 
Among the justifiable reasons for refusing archaeo- 
logical permits cited in Section 33.5.6 are inadequate 
efforts to secure Inuit participation and benefits or 
inadequate performance of commitments to provide 
such participation and benefits under permits issued 
at an earlier date, or the disturbance of a site of Inuit 

21.3/ Krista Apak puts the final touches on a display 
explaining cast making before the exhibition opens. 

religious or spiritual significance, as such signifi- 
cance is defined by the Trust in consultation with 
the Designated Agency [PWNHCorthe CMC] (Tungavik 

In February 1 994, Inuit from across the Canadian 
Arctic met to discuss their feelings toward archaeol- 
ogy and the future of archaeology in the north. Com- 
mon concerns expressed throughout the meeting in- 
cluded archaeologists' lack of respect for the land, for 
Inuit elders, and for Inuit remains; the sense of sorrow, 
anger, and frustration at the alienation of Inuit cultural 
heritage through the removal of artifacts from Nunavut 
to outside repositories; the need for local museums; 
and the need for archaeological reports to be made 
available to the communities concerned. Despite a 
deep distrust of archaeologists among many Inuit, the 
elders (with the exception of the elders from Labrador) 
and the youth expressed the belief that there is a role 
for archaeology in the interpretation and understand- 
ing of Inuit land use and occupation through time. At 
the same time, they felt that archaeology needed to 
be conducted in a proper manner. At the end of the 



meeting, the participants compiled a series of guide- 
lines for archaeologists, which are incorporated into 
the final report of the meeting (Bennett 1 994). This 
report should be required reading for anyone wishing 
to conduct fieldwork in Nunavut. 

In conclusion, for years Inuit have watched scien- 
tists from all disciplines removing material from the 
north with little or no return of information. In the case 
of archaeology, this loss has been particularly painful 
because Inuit have seen their heritage physically being 
taken away. This pain has been exacerbated as a re- 
sult of the disappearance of other parts of Inuit heri- 
tage, such as the loss of regional dialects and clothing 
styles and, most important, the passing away of el- 
ders who are the major repositories of Inuit cultural 

While carrying on excavations, archaeologists have 
a tendency to insist that Inuit have no right to dig in 
the sites nor to maintain possession of any artifacts, 
despite the fact that these sites are on Inuit land, that 
they were occupied by Inuit ancestors, and that the 
elders today use the evidence that exists for the pres- 
ence of a pre-contact indigenous peoples as a didac- 
tic tool to inform youth about the past. 

Inuit want to participate in this interpretation and 
to formulate their own interpretations. For years now 
we have been required to receive community approval 
for our research. We frequently send copies of our re- 
ports to the communities and sometimes hire locals 
to assist in fieldwork. These practices are all well and 
good but they do little to alter Inuit impressions of 
archaeologists. Our reports are in English and use ar- 
chaeological jargon. They are usually sent to the com- 
munity council and they tend to disappear. It has been 
rare for archaeologists to involve communities suc- 
cessfully in research. (This is often not the fault of the 
archaeologists as most archaeological projects take 
place many miles from any community.) 

Since 1 977, progress has been made toward forg- 
ing a dialog between Inuit and archaeologists. We 
now have to look toward the next step along this 

path. Control over the past is held not by those who 
excavate at archaeological sites but by those who 
ask the questions and interpret the results. Archaeolo- 
gists and Inuit share a common desire to learn about 
Inuit history. The next step should involve a dramatic 
change in archaeology with Inuit and archaeologists 
eventually working together to formulate innova- 
tive research programs and gain a richer understand- 
ing of Inuit history. 


Since its inception, the Igloolik Archaeology Field School 
has been supported by many individuals and organi- 
zations. First and foremost, we would like to acknowl- 
edge the support of the community of Igloolik. The 
operation of the field school would not be possible 
without the logistical support of the Science Institute 
of the Northwest Territories. Further logistical and fi- 
nancial support has come from the Ataguttaaluk School 
and the Baffin Divisional Board of Education. Other fi- 
nancial support has come from our volunteer staff and, 
in 1991 and 1993, from the Access to Archaeology 
Program of Culture and Communications Canada. 

I am indebted to Susan Baer at the NWT law library 
for tracking down the early ordinances that pertain to 
explorers and archaeologists. I would also like to thank 
Ellen Bielawski, Margaret Bertulli, and Doug Stenton for 
assisting me with the details of projects with which 
they were involved. 


1 . These place names are from northern Foxe 
Basin. The spellings and translations are taken from 
SINT 1 993. 

2. Igloolik Oral History Project, Interview IE1 48. 
Interview by John MacDonald and translation by 
Louis Tapardjuk. 

3. Igloolik Oral History Project, Interview IE1 49. 
Interview by John MacDonald and translation by 
Louis Tapardjuk. 

4. David Cranz (1 767) hypothesized that Inuit 
culture had originated in Northeast Asia, and this 
concept was later developed by Clements Mark- 

2 70 


ham (1 865). 

5. Letter dated May 31,1 906, from Clark Wissler 
to George Comer. Archives, American Museum of 
Natural History, New York. 

6. There were, of course, exceptions. The most 
notable of these was Moreau Maxwell's work on south 
Baffin Island. 

7. Deborah Webster, a graduate of the Northern 
Heritage Society Field School, graduated from Carleton 
University in 1 991 with a degree in anthropology. She 
now works as an archaeologist and northern expert 
for Parks Canada in Yellowknife. 

8. The text for this exhibit was prepared by Ellen 

9. In 1979, Bill Fitzhugh and others at the Smith- 

sonian Institution in Washington, D.C., organized a 
workshop on the organization of community muse- 
ums. This workshop was attended by people from 
Labrador and Alaska. 

10. At the same time, Makivik Corporation and 
Avataq in northern Quebec were running archaeo- 
logical field schools that trained local youth. 

11. In the early 1 990s, both Stephen Loring and 
Susan Kaplan organized community-based projects in 
Nain, Labrador. 

1 2. Anyone wishing to start a similar program will 
be able to use this course designation. 

1 3. There is a provision for an exception in the 
case of sites that require immediate salvaging. 


2 7 1 

~]~he Last J<^nown ^Traditional jnuit ~]~ria! 
on Southwest Baffin Island 


In the summer of 1 991 , while gathering material from 
Inuit elders on places of power and objects of venera- 
tion in the Canadian Arctic, I learned of the existence 
of a traditional system of justice that once prevailed 
on southwest Baffin Island. While the place where jus- 
tice was exercised remains as a visible artifact on the 
landscape, the traditional way of exercising justice van- 
ished after the arrival of the qallunaat (white men). 

I was taken from Cape Dorset by open canoe to a 
circle of large upright stones, which an elder explained 
was where the Great Council met, "It was like your Par- 

He called the place and the circle Akitsirqavik. I 
was told I was the first qallunaaq to be brought to this 
place of power, and was asked not to reveal its loca- 

This structure, unlike any other I have seen in the 
Arctic, is constructed of massive stones, some weigh- 
ing up to a ton, standing on end and arranged in a 
near-perfect circle. The largest stone measures 7 feet 
6.5 inches high by 1 foot 3.5 inches wide by 1 foot 
6. 5 inches thick. It is opposite the second largest stone, 
which measures 5 feet 6 inches high by 1 foot 6 inches 
wide by 1 foot 6 inches thick. 

After we returned to Cape Dorset, a second elder, 
learning of my introduction to Akitsiraqvik, revealed 
another undocumented aspect of the Inuit justice 
system, a meeting of the Great Council sixty-seven 
years ago to hear a charge of murder. This is thought 
to have been the last traditional Inuit trial on south- 
west Baffin Island. 

Normally, the trial would have been held in the stone 
circle, but events prompted a change in location. The 
killing of one man by another on a hunting trip had 
caused a great deal of tension between the families of 
the victim and the accused. In addition, two members 
of the council were related to the victim. So, in August 
1 924, there was an unusual urgency about reaching a 
verdict. However, a Hudson's Bay Company supply 
ship was expected any day at Parketuk, about 9 kilo- 
meters northeast of Cape Dorset, so the members of 
the council decided to meet there. 

The revelations about the circle of large upright 
stones and the existence of a formal justice system 
were given to me just before my departure from Cape 
Dorset in 1 990. Bad weather had frustrated all my 
attempts to reach another place of power about which 
I had heard a great deal, Inuksugalait, ("the place of 
many, many inuksuit" [stone constructions]). This re- 
markable site on the southwest coast of Baffin Island 
(64 33' north latitude, 70 1 1 ' west longitude) has some 
200 stone constructions concentrated in a small area 


of about 1 .3 hectares. Commonly known as Enukso 
Point, it is a place of great significance to the Inuit of 
southwest Baffin. 

In 1 990, I had made what I thought was my final 
attempt to reach Inuksugalait with an experienced 
young hunter. Once again, however, we were kept at 
Cape Dorset by a succession of spring storms. 

Just before returning to the South, I had tea and 
bannock with Pauta and Pitaloosie Saila. 1 Sensing my 
disappointment, Pauta hinted that if I could return the 
next summer he might take me to Inuksugalait. Then, 
after thinking for a moment he added, "And maybe I 
will be able to show you something even more impor- 
tant." Slowly and carefully he went on to describe a 
place where there is a stone structure unlike any other, 
a place of great power and significance. Seeing that I 
was fascinated by this revelation, Pauta's wife, Pita- 
loosie, made a detailed drawing of the site for me. Her 
skilled hand revealed a great circle of upright stones 
unlike anything I had seen in the Arctic. 

Knowing the importance of names to the Inuit, I 
asked, "What is the circle called?" Pauta had to search 
far back in his memory, but was able to recall the 
name which he had learned from his mother. It is 
called Akitsiraqvik. 

Pauta spoke about the place and what had hap- 
pened there, and I was careful not to interrupt or to 
introduce notions of my own. He described the place 
as a kind of Parliament where judges, powerful men 
like high priests, sat in judgment of the most serious 

I returned to Cape Dorset in the summer of 1 991 
and true to his word Pauta, along with Pitaloosie and 
other members of his family, took me to Inuksugalait 
and then to Akitsiraqvik (fig. 22.1). Later, based on the 
photographic evidence that I provided, both W. E. Taylor 
and C. Arnold confirmed they knew of no similar site in 
Arctic Canada. 

Upon my return to Cape Dorset from the two great 
sites, I was informed that Osuitok Ipeelee, 2 my old 
mentor, wished to speak to me. So Osuitok, my dear 

friend Annie Manning, and I gathered together for a 
hearty meal and an evening's conversation. Osuitok 
began by asking me what I had seen during my trip. I 
admitted I had been taken to Akitsiraqvik. "I know," he 
said. "Now I have something else to tell you about the 
old way of justice." 

What follows are my notes about Osuitok's recol- 
lections of the last Inuit trial on southwest Baffin Island 
before the arrival of the qallunaat's system of justice. 

The Trial 

On a calm, clear day in August 1924, a bullet extin- 
guished a hunter's life in an instant. He lies buried just 
behind the hill from where I write these notes. The fate 
of the victim's hunting companion who fired that fatal 
bullet was decided at Parketuk, about 9 kilometers 
northeast of Cape Dorset. 3 

At the time, there were at least fifty camps along 
the coast from Nuvujuak, at the northern tip of the 
Baffin Peninsula, to Markham Bay, some 260 nautical 
miles to the south. Some camps had as few as two 
families, while others had five or more. It was not 
unusual for camps to grow or shrink in size with the 
seasonal availability of food. 

Each camp had its camp boss 4 whose leadership 
was based on demonstrated ability. He was kept in- 
formed of everything going on in the camp and in the 
surrounding area. He had the final word about any- 
thing that really mattered, including where and when 
to go hunting, the division of food, marriages, who 
could join or leave the camp, and the nature of tasks 
and any punishments. Lines of authority and indica- 
tions of respect were clear from the servants or camp 
slaves 5 all the way up to the camp boss. 

Certain camp bosses and shamans achieved a 
higher status than other leaders because they were 
acknowledged to be the best thinkers, speakers, and 
achievers in the region. They were the tapananitiit, "the 
powerful ones," who merited the highest respect. The 
tapananitiit were also known as the issumaliuqtiit, "the 
wise men." Within this elite group were the pimariit, 

27 4 


— rag liiiiiHiiiii . ' ' • 

22. 1/The traditional trial arena, Akitsiraqvik, on Baffin Island 

"those who could speak powerfully." They could 
choose words with great skill and arrange them in 
amazing ways. Collectively these men who formed 
a power elite exerted a great influence throughout 
southwest Baffin Island in traditional times. 

Although the tapananitiit lived in various camps 
throughout the region, there were occasions when such 
matters as murder, pestilence, impending starvation, 
and difficulties associated with the arrival of the 
qallunaat brought them together for thoughtful 
discussion and considered action. 

The Great Council met in various locations as re- 
quired by events and prevailing conditions. One place, 
however, was favored above all others as an enduring 
symbol of the council's power. Located in a remote 
region of southwest Baffin Island known as Qaumajuq 
(where the land is in brightness), this place was 
Akitsirqavik, a large circle of upright stones with one 
very tall stone seeming to face the structure into the 
prevailing wind. 

The name Akitsiraqvik is so old that its exact mean- 
ing has been forgotten, but it suggests "to strike out, 
to render justice." In this case and others, the tradi- 
tional name of an object in a place and the name of 
that place are one and the same. 

And so in Akitsiraqvik was a court where the council 
sat, questioned the accused and witnesses, heard 

confessions, listened to pleas, resolved conflicts, and 
decided punishments. Unlike any court we know to- 
day, it was also the center of a place where celebra- 
tions, games, and feasts occurred at various times of 
the year. 

In 1924, the council gathered at Parketuk to be 
close to the place where the great umiaq 6 (supply 
ship), the S.S. Nascopie, would arrive with tea, to- 
bacco, needles, beads, pots, and all kinds of other 
useful things. 

But the council was also to render judgment on a 
man, L, 7 who claimed that his shooting of his hunting 
companion, O, was an accident. The unfortunate event 
might have been endured with quiet resignation 
except for two factors. First, the victim's family argued 
that he had been murdered; as a result, there was great 
tension between them and the family of the accused. 
Second, both the victim's natural father and his ac- 
quired father (he had been adopted while a child) in- 
sisted that the accused be summoned to account be- 
fore the council. It happened that these two men were 
powerful members of the council. Understandably, there 
was a general feeling that the accused would be found 
guilty and put to death. 

Some council members had been taken to the place 
where the victim had fallen. They had examined the 
area where the accused had taken his position to shoot 



birds; they had considered the weather, the time of 
day, and the myriad of details familiar to hunters. Then 
they met to reach a decision. 8 

Only the accused and his parents were permitted 
to appear before the council. The accused gave his 
testimony and answered questions. Having been 
required to stand throughout the proceeding, he 
became very tired and lost his balance, but recov- 
ered. Then, resigned to dying, he said, "If you de- 
cide to kill me, take me away from this place, and 
shoot me where I will bleed to death slowly. And if 
that punishment doesn't satisfy you then take my child 
and do the same." 

The council remained silent for a long time. Then 
Osuitok's father and P, 9 a powerful camp boss, whis- 
pered back and forth. Finally P exclaimed, "Whoever 
kills this man removes my will to live!" 

His penetrating words struck at the thoughts of 
everyone on the council, and they decided to spare 
the life of the accused. However, there was a condi- 
tion: should the accused ever be involved in another 
person's death in any way, at any time, his own death 
would follow swiftly. 

The decision prescribed a standard of conduct 
to be followed for the rest of the man's life. He would 
be vulnerable whether he was in the presence of 
friends or strangers, yet to live apart was inconceiv- 
able. His fate became known throughout southwest 
Baffin. To him it meant inuugiaqarnirama, which 
means "my time to die is not yet come, my life is 
fated to continue." 

And so L's life continued without incident. The 
timeless expression ajurnarmat, which means "it can- 
not be otherwise" had a particular meaning for L until 
the day his earthly journeys came to a natural end. 

With the arrival of the great umiaqfvom the south 
came many desirable and wonderful things. There 
also came different beliefs and practices, which al- 
tered the traditional way of life and erased, at least 
in this part of the Arctic, the Inuit way of dispensing 


The defendant did not appear to seek to address the 
main issue of whether the killing was intentional or 
accidental. In addressing the council, he seemed to 
take for granted the fact that he would be convicted. 
Further, he eschewed making a speech to mitigate his 
punishment. He appeared to encourage an increase 
rather than a decrease in the punishment meted out, 
advocating a slow and painful death over a swift 
and painless one. Thus, the defendant, at least on the 
surface, turned his back on the classic advocate's 
approach of denying responsibility, and if that fails, 
seeking the least possible sanction. 

But this accused must be taken to have known 
the culture from which he came, and his lack of legal 
training served him well because he was, nevertheless, 
able to persuade the key member of the council not 
to favor the death penalty. Obviously, the accused 
used the technique of persuasion most suited to his 
situation in that particular culture. That it would have 
won no prizes in a southern Canadian law school 
exercise in trial practice is dwarfed to insignificance 
by its success in Baffin Island where his life— rather than 
his formal legal skill— was literally on the line. 

An aboriginal court thus acted on the basis of a 
plea that would have been totally unpersuasive to a 
non-aboriginal tribunal. But if the outcome was just in 
that community, one can understand the increasing 
interest among Canadian aboriginal communities in 
having their own justice systems reestablished. 

Contemporary terms in the Inuit language articu- 
late the full range of legal terms employed in court 
procedure. Qanercetaan/ik ("where one is made to tell 
the truth") and apiqsuivik ("where one is questioned") 
are examples of contemporary Inuktitut terms. But 
one can also find Inuktitut terms and expressions ex- 
tant before the arrival of the qallunaat, suggesting a 
clear understanding of crime and punishment. Some 
appear in the Eskimo-English Dictionary, which hap- 
pened to be published in 1 925, a year after the deci- 
sion at Parketuk. These terms appear in Table 22.1 . 

2 76 


Table 22. // Inuktitut terms which illustrate an understanding of crime and punishment 























pikkablajoksovlutik innugmik tokkotsivut 










inuk tamma erkartuivigivara illuserivalauktanganik 
























Other Inuktitut terms relevant to this account are: 











wisdom, knowledge, prudence, sense 

custom, habit, practice, manner 

meeting place 

gathering place auditory 

a gathering place where one heard speakers 

meeting place of the council 

a place, time where and when men gathered to deliberate 

the meeting place, house, structure where the council met 

the council meeting of the powerful ones 

court, place of execution 

he brings an action against him 

a charge, an accusation 

the one who is to be accused 

the accused 

he is accused of 

being accused of 

the cause of the offense 


offense, misdeed, crime 

he wishes to kill him 
he attempts to kill him 

they killed a person while they did evil things 
he kills him 

he permits them (several) to be killed 

one who has been killed by permission (the victim's?) 

where and when one shall die 

a dead person 

a murder victim 



an evil doer 

I put this man in mind of his former conduct 
an old thing that must be born in mind 
my judge, who put me in mind of old things done 
he judges him 

one who is judged, sentenced 

court, place of judgment, execution 

the reason, grounds, cause of the punishment 

one who deserves punishment 

he is punishable 

his punishment 

a punished one 

the one who inflicts the punishment 
the punishment that he inflicts 
the instrument used to punish 
one who is punished 
he is not punished 

he will be or is to be pardoned, or one is satisfied again with him 
the act of pardoning 

the place or time where and in which grace is exercised 

the pardon, grace, which one receives 

he is pardoned 

mercy, charity 

the one who is obeyed 

the one who obeys 

white people 
white person 

relationship based on seniority and obedience 

relationship based on affection and cooperation 

camp boss, decision maker, respect gained through experience 

camp boss, decision maker, respect gained through intellect, judgment 

the wise men 

those who were powerful speakers, who chose words well and could 
arrange them in amazing ways, 
the powerful ones, deserving of the highest respect 

Note: Many of the terms above are to be found in Rev. Edmund J. Peck's Eskimo-English Dictionary (1925). 




The sequence of events did not end with document- 
ing images and words illustrating the last known Inuit 
trial on southwest Baffin Island. On January 1 4, 1 992, I 
was informed that The Honorable Chief Justice Anto- 
nio Lamer, Supreme Court of Canada, would circulate 
a copy of The Last Traditional Inuit Trial on Southwest 
Baffin Island to his colleagues and deposit it in the Su- 
preme Court Library for future reference. 

More recently, in a letter dated February 1 6, 1 994, 
The Honorable Judge Jean-L. Dutil wrote to me in re- 
sponse to reading this paper: "It is of great interest to 
me, as it is the basis for the circle I hold in the north. 
This reference is to a growing practice of involving 
native communities in sentencing and the justice 

At a time when aboriginal peoples in Canada are 
advocating a return to their own systems of justice, it 
is particularly appropriate that the disclosure of the 
site of a court-like structure at which decisions were 
made on life and death and other important com- 
munity issues on Baffin Island be revealed. Though the 
actual location is not revealed, the type of case that 
would have been heard there is disclosed in this deeply 
touching account of death, deliberation, and decision 
in the Canadian Arctic. 


I am deeply indebted to Osuitok Ipeelee, my mentor, 
who continues to share his experiences of days past. 
Pauta and Pitaloosie Saila took me into their confidence 
and showed me things of extraordinary power and 
beauty. Annie Manning opened doors that would have 
otherwise been closed. Her sensitive and penetrating 
way of conveying the meaning of words is truly out- 
standing. I thank Alan Grant, Professor of Law at Os- 
goode Hall, whose insights from investigative and 
prosecutorial/defense perspectives add much to this 
paper. Thanks to my old friend Tuniksiuti, commonly 
known as Dr. William Taylor, Jr., for his valuable guid- 
ance. The help of Darrell Eagles has been invaluable in 

preparing this and other papers. My old friend Terry 
Ryan, who has spent the greater part of his life in the 
Arctic, continues to be as interested and hospitable as 
he was when we first met thirty-five years ago. My 
sincere thanks to Robert Jarvis Q.C. for his interest and 
support over the years. 


1 . Pauta and Pitaloosie Saila, internationally 
renowned artists, reside in Cape Dorset. Pauta is 
a highly respected elder who retains much knowl- 
edge of traditional Inuit life. 

2. Osuitok Ipeelee is an internationally re- 
nowned artist, member of the Royal Canadian 
Academy of Art, and widely traveled. He pos- 
sesses an extraordinary amount of information 
about traditional Inuit life. 

3. Cape Dorset (64 1 4' north latitude, 76 32' 
west longitude) is a community of approximately 
1 ,200 people situated on Dorset Island off the 
Foxe Peninsula in southwest Baffin Island. Known 
as Kingait, meaning the high hill, it is famous for 
the number of internationally acclaimed Inuit art- 
ists who live there. It was from Cape Dorset that 
artifacts of an ancient people, who flourished be- 
tween about 800 B.C. and A.D. 1400, were sent 
south. They were identified by the late Diamond 
Jenness, the famous anthropologist, as belong- 
ing to a distinct way of life, which he named the 
Dorset Culture and which was spread widely 
across Arctic Canada. 

4. Men rose to the position of camp boss by 
excelling in a merit system in which knowledge, 
skill, and judgment exercised with great effective- 
ness were recognized with leadership. They had 
total authority over the camp and were replaced 
only when they lost their faculties. 

5. This is a touchy subject. They were quite 
often an orphaned child, a person with a disabil- 
ity, or a young person adopted from another 
camp. Performing the most menial chores and on 
occasion subjected to harsh treatment, their sta- 
tus and treatment were similar to those of the 
serfs of Central Europe. Ironically, some of best 
and toughest camp bosses were once camp 

6. Umiaq (pi. umian) is a large, seagoing boat 
made of wood and hide, and equipped with a 
small square sail. Because it was rowed by women, 
it was sometimes referred to as the women's 



boat. It was capable of carrying several families 
and their belongings, and was sometimes used 
for whale hunting. Believed to have been devel- 
oped by the Thule culture Inuit, it was once used 
throughout the Arctic from the Siberian coast to 
Greenland. The term umiaq was also used to de- 
note other large boats, such as Peterheads, trap 
boats, whale boats, etc. 

The umiaq referred to in this account is the 
Hudson's Bay Company's supply ship, S.S. Nasco- 
pie that serviced Lake Harbor and Amadjuak, 
among other places, on its way to Cape Dorset. 
The Nascopie sank just off Cape Dorset in 1 947 
after hitting an uncharted shoal. 

7. It is preferable that I apologize to the reader 
for using only the initials of people who are de- 
ceased, rather than having to apologize to their 
surviving kin for revealing their name to strangers 
without permission. 

In traditional times, the conferring of names 
was often an act of great importance. In this con- 
nection, the significance of the following has 
eluded me; perhaps someone may understand 
its meaning. At the trial of /_, one of the council 
members was Q, a prominent and highly re- 
spected shaman. Years later when Q had a son, 

he bestowed upon that child the accused person's 
name— L. 

8. Commenting on this paragraph, Professor 
Alan Grant noted that, "It shows the council as 
triers of fact familiarizing themselves with the 
scene, rather like a modern jury taking a view, as 
it is called, when they go to the scene of some 
very important event in a case. This is very sel- 
dom done in criminal cases now, but is still pos- 
sible. In fact, in early English legal history, the 
jury was not picked from those with no knowl- 
edge of the case, but from those who had ex- 
press knowledge of the case. Witnesses were 
then called to support the reputation for veracity 
of different members of the jury. It was only much 
later that a jury was chosen from those with no 
connection with the events to be tried." 

9. The person Pwas the last of the great camp 
bosses in southwest Baffin Island and one of the 
tapananitiit who was known throughout the is- 
land. He was a person of legendary qualities. The 
Hudson's Bay Company was so impressed with 
his abilities that they sent him to communities all 
over Baffin Island to improve trapping and the 
preparation of skins. Later, with the coming of the 
missionaries, he became a renowned catechist. 



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